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Earthquake-prone Buildings Amendment needs more flexibility

CORRECTION

LGNZ has been advised the House of Representatives did not get to the Buildings (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Bill 2013 listed on its Order Paper yesterday. The Bill has been added to the Order Paper for today’s session.

MEDIA RELEASE

29 January 2014
For Immediate release

Earthquake-prone Buildings Amendment needs more flexibility

Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) says the Buildings (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Bill 2013 given its first reading in Parliament yesterday needs more flexibility.

The amendments to the Building Act 2004 require territorial authorities to conduct seismic assessments of all non-residential and multi-unit, multi-storey residential buildings within five years.  Building owners will then need to strengthen or demolish any earthquake-prone structures within 15 years.

The time and cost of assessing buildings will vary for each of the 73 territorial authorities.  LGNZ president Lawrence Yule says legislation needs to allow for variation across the needs of different areas of New Zealand instead of this ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach.

“The proposals have a narrow focus on life safety only.  While this is critical, we are advocating for a risk-based approach that takes into account wider social and economic impacts alongside life safety,” says Mr Yule.

“We consider the sector should have the ability to focus our attention and limited resource, including engineers, where there are larger numbers of people and infrastructure at risk.  These are the areas where an earthquake can also impact on the national economy.”

While LGNZ supports some of the amendments such as the provision to strengthen parts of buildings, a number of councils have advanced building assessments in their region and may question whether the new rules require a quick enough response to earthquake-related risks.  For others, the timeframe to complete assessments within five years will be challenging because of the commitment of council resources to other projects.

LGNZ will work closely with its members to analyse the implications of the Bill read yesterday and will be making a submission.

ENDS

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