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Earthquake-prone buildings Bill passes first reading

Hon Maurice Williamson
Minister for Building and Construction
5 March 2014 Media Statement
Earthquake-prone buildings Bill passes first reading

Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson has welcomed the passing of the first reading of the Building (Earthquake-prone buildings) Amendment Bill today.

“This Bill will ensure earthquake-prone buildings are dealt with in a timely manner by way of a nationally consistent system and will require information about earthquake-prone buildings to be made available to the public.

“It strikes a balance between protecting people from harm in an earthquake and managing the costs of strengthening or removing such buildings.

“The Bill is broadly in line with the recommendations in Volume 4 of the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission. It also takes account of the views of the many New Zealanders who gave us their feedback when the Government consulted on its proposals last year,” Mr Williamson says.

In summary, the legislation:

• Sets a national timeframe of 20 years for buildings to be strengthened or demolished, by requiring territorial authorities to assess buildings within five years and for work to be completed, or buildings to be demolished, within 15 years of assessment.
• Requires a publicly available national register on the seismic capacity of buildings to be established.
• Prioritises work on certain buildings, including buildings of particular significance in terms of public safety, and buildings that could, if they collapsed in an earthquake, impede a transport route of strategic importance in an emergency.
• Enables local councils to issue building consents for required work on earthquake-prone buildings without requiring other upgrades in certain circumstances.
• Owners of Category 1 historic places may apply for an extension of up to 10 years.
• Owners of other buildings will also be able to apply for exemptions from the national timeframe for strengthening. This provision is intended to apply where the effects of failure are likely to be minimal, and could for example include low use rural churches and farm buildings with little passing traffic.

The Building (Earthquake-prone buildings) Amendment Bill has been referred to the Local Government and Environment Select Committee.

ENDS

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