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Seismic strengthening policy needs rethink

4 July 2014

Seismic strengthening policy needs rethink

New exemptions from seismic strengthening requirements show the policy is inconsistent and unnecessary, says BusinessNZ.

The Government has announced it will exempt farm buildings from the requirement for owners of buildings to upgrade them to national earthquake standards or demolish them within 20 years.

The requirement would have cost an average of $3,000 per farm for the strengthening work.

BusinessNZ Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly says the change highlights the unnecessary burden being placed on all building owners affected by the requirements.

“In the wake of the Christchurch quakes, earthquake-vulnerable buildings are already prompting safety concerns and higher insurance premiums. These market responses are already leading to building owners upgrading or demolishing them. There is no need for a regulatory requirement on top of this.

“Owners of older buildings in smaller centres will be particularly hard hit by the cost of this policy. It could lead to many buildings, including heritage buildings, being demolished needlessly.

“The policy does not take account of local conditions where there may be a much lower earthquake risk.”

Mr O’Reilly said the Building (Earthquake-Prone Buildings) Amendment Bill was still being worked on in a select committee and needed a complete rethink.

ENDS

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