New Zealand Law Society - Emergency earthquake response legislation

Emergency earthquake response legislation

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The Government drafted three new Bills in the wake of the magnitude 7.8 earthquake on 14 November to ensure affected communities can respond quickly and efficiently. One of the bills has been passed under urgency, while another will pass on 1 December 2016.

Leader of the House and Acting Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee says new legislation recognises the extraordinary situation faced by earthquake-affected communities, particularly in the Kaikoura and Hurunui districts.

“The Bills have been developed by officials who have drawn on the experience of the Canterbury earthquakes,” Mr Brownlee says.

“A cross-party group of all Parliamentary representation has further worked on the Bills to strike a balance between accelerating works and respectful process.

“This is about Parliament ensuring the law is adaptable and best able to respond to this significant natural disaster."

Mr Brownlee says the Government passed the Civil Defence Emergency Management Amendment Act 2016 Amendment Act 2016 under urgency to bring forward the commencement date of most provisions of the recently enacted Civil Defence Emergency Management Amendment Act 2016.

The Act also provides that a Civil Defence controller or a Recovery Manager may require a building owner to undertake earthquake assessments of their properties.

The Hurunui/Kaikoura Earthquakes Recovery (Emergency Relief) Bill 2016 has three objectives, Mr Brownlee says.

“It will temporarily increase the timeframes in which someone can give notice or apply for retrospective consent in regard to emergency works under the Resource Management Act.

“It also proposes that emergency works to farm properties become permitted activities until March 30 2017.

“Since the earthquake, some farmers have had to dig bores and repair facilities on their land, which in some cases may have breached the normal requirements.

“Farmers will have to notify authorities of their activities within 40 working days.

“The Bill also proposes a number of legislative changes to allow for the restoration of Kaikoura harbours.

“It’s essential that access from the sea is restored so dredging, and other necessary work, will become controlled activities under the Regional Coastal Plan.

The bill was referred to the local government and environment committee on 29 November 2016 with submissions closing on 30 November. The committee says it received and considered 14 submissions from targeted organisations and individuals, with oral evidence being heard from 13 submitters at a hearing in Wellington.

The committee's report recommends that the bill be passed.

The Hurunui/Kaikoura Earthquakes Recovery Bill 2016 aims to establish a process that enables plans and bylaws to be amended by Order in Council. The Bill was introduced on 1 December 2016 before a short select committee stage.

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