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Buildings farm exemption welcomed as a first step

Earthquake-prone buildings farm exemption welcomed as a first step

Federated Farmers is delighted Government has seen the logic of exempting farm structures from the Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Bill as a first step to ensuring the viability of rural towns is not compromised.

“It was mind boggling to hear the Minister cost the inclusion of farm structures in the Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Bill as being an imposition of $170 million,” says Anders Crofoot, Federated Farmers new Vice-President.

“We naturally welcome this exemption since no one in the recorded history of farming in New Zealand has ever been killed in a collapsing farm structure during an earthquake. It was a clear case of regulatory overreach.

“While we welcome this exemption, we still have major concerns about the Bill’s implication for the rural service towns we absolutely rely upon.

“Destroying our provincial towns in order to save them does not strike us as sensible given the low-rise, low density profile of these towns are markedly different from central Wellington or Auckland.

“Our provincial centres cannot match the massive square metre rents found in Lambton Quay yet the seismic costs are exactly the same.

“We believe there needs to be a lot more work to model the effect of an earthquake on the types of streetscape found in provincial centres. Even then there needs to be a social and economic decision to balance a pure safety approach with a degree of pragmatism.

“Speaking to Local Government NZ, a focus on parapets, verandas and removing at risk items could greatly boost safety at the least social and financial cost.

“It is hard to disagree with the Property Council of New Zealand, which believes the Bill could work, but only if earthquake strengthening is made tax deductible, qualifying for depreciation.

“Federated Farmers does congratulate the Government for what it has done with farm structures and believes we can strike the right balance for our rural towns,” Mr Crofoot concluded.

Federated Farmers submission can be read here.


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