Environmental / Resource Management

Building Act Emergency Management Proposals – The Safety vs Heritage Debate

Created: Wednesday, 27 May 2015 00:54

On 19 May 2015 the Minister of Building and Housing (Minister), Nick Smith, announced consultation on a proposed new system under the Building Act 2004 to manage buildings following a disaster.

The proposals seek to manage unsafe buildings and life safety risks during and after a state of emergency by providing territorial authorities with new powers under the Building Act 2004 to require or undertake work on damaged buildings without resource or building consents. This is intended to smooth the transition between state of emergency powers under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002 (CDEM Act), and powers under the Building Act, where buildings have suffered significant damage and pose significant risk.

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"...NO ONE WAS KILLED IN CHRISTCHURCH FROM A BUILDING THAT MET THIS LEVEL"

Created: Thursday, 14 May 2015 13:11

This comment from Building & Housing Minister, Nick Smith, in a speech announcing the Government's revised earthquakestrengthening policy, referring to the 34% code compliance standard for earthquake prone buildings: Minister's speech.

The Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Bill, which is due to be reported back to the House on 30 July 2015, caused a flurry of concern from insurers and building owners when it was introduced at the end of 2013. The Bill proposed seismic assessments of all buildings within 5 years, and required work resulting from the assessment to be completed within15 years, with an extension of 10 years available for some heritage buildings – see our commentary on Bill here.

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Proposed Environmental Legislation not Limited to RMA

Created: Friday, 10 April 2015 02:07

While the fate of RMA reform hangs in the balance following the Northland by-election, other environmental legislative proposals are worth keeping an eye on.

Environmental Reporting Bill Makes Progress

In March 2014 we discussed the introduction of the Environmental Reporting Bill. As this Bill has now been reported back to the House of Representatives by the Local Government and Environment Select Committee it is a good time to recap on what it seeks to achieve, and what changes the Select Committee have proposed.

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Easements Over Reserve Land

Created: Tuesday, 24 March 2015 03:14

Schmuck v Director General, Department of Conservation and Ors [2015] NZHC 422

It is always gratifying to have one's advice confirmed by the High Court, but even more so when it involves a matter that has been needlessly frustrating to all parties involved for over a decade.

The recent High Court decision of Heath J in Schmuck v Director General confirms that the granting of easements over reserve land under section 48 of the Reserves Act 1977 (the Act), can be for both specific and general purposes, and is sometimes a necessary adjunct of protecting land without stymying other activities that are in the public interest.

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An Update on the 2015 RMA Reforms

Created: Wednesday, 11 March 2015 20:17

Rotary meetings seldom grab the national headlines but this all changed in late January. No it wasn't an installation of the hallowed 32 burner BBQ at the local park, but a topic just as hot - the Minister for the Environment's speech on reform of the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA). The attention was justified.

Sure the speech was light on detail, but that is to be expected given policy development and work on a proposed Bill is continuing at pace. What it did provide was a sense of Minister Nick Smith's vision for the reforms and how that differs from the direction taken by the previous Minister. When considered alongside the February 2013 discussion document (Ministry for the Environment, Improving our Resource Management System Discussion Document) released by the previous Minister, the speech allows a map for the reforms to be drawn, albeit by inference.

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Supreme Court has Last Word on Upgrading Earthquake-prone Buildings

Created: Friday, 27 March 2015 11:18

Natural disasters often test the boundaries of the law.  In University of Canterbury v Insurance Council of NZ Inc [2014] NZSC 193, the Supreme Court considered the power of territorial authorities to require work to be carried out on earthquake-prone buildings. It found that local authorities are not entitled to require that such buildings be strengthened to more than 34% of the  new building standard (NBS).

History

Christchurch City Council’s 2010 Policy concerning earthquake-prone buildings (the City Council Policy) adopted recommendations of the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering that the level of strengthening required to reduce or remove the danger posed by an earthquake-prone building was 67% of NBS.

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