Emergency legislation welcomed

Environment Canterbury Chairman David Bedford has welcomed the emergency legislation proposed by the Government in response to the magnitude 7.8 earthquake on November 14.

“This has been a challenging event for the Kaikōura and Hurunui communities and we are pleased the Government has acknowledged this and acted quickly and decisively,” Mr Bedford said. “There are several different aspects to the proposed legislation that will enable a pragmatic approach to rebuilding the communities as quickly and as efficiently as possible.”

Three new Bills have been developed:

The Civil Defence Emergency Management Amendment Act 2016 Amendment Bill (CDEMAA Amendment Bill) would bring forward the commencement date of most provisions of the recently enacted CDEMAA, and adds provisions around requests for property assessments to the roles of Civil Defence Controllers and Recovery Managers.

“Many of the provisions have been introduced as a result of learnings from the Christchurch earthquakes and it is excellent to see these taking effect now to enable us to assist Kaikōura and Hurunui,” Mr Bedford said.

The Hurunui/Kaikoura Earthquakes Recovery (Emergency Relief) Bill 2016 will do three things: it will temporarily increase timeframes with regard to retrospective consents for emergency works under the Resource Management Act; it proposes that emergency works to farm properties become permitted activities until the end of March next year; and it proposes legislative changes that will allow for the restoration of Kaikōura’s harbours.

“Environment Canterbury manages the consents processes for on-farm activities and we will be working closely with farmers to help them get necessary emergency works done while continuing to operate sustainable businesses through this time,” David Bedford said.

“Environment Canterbury also runs the Harbourmaster’s Office, and we welcome the proposals around the restoration of the harbours under the Regional Coastal Plan. For Kaikōura to thrive again, access to the sea is essential. We will be working with Kaikōura District Council and Ngāti Kuri and others to make this happen,” Mr Bedford said.

“We want to see businesses and communities get up and running again as viable, sustainable entities and the proposed legislation changes will enable us to help them do that in a sensible and realistic timeframe.”

The Hurunui/Kaikōura Earthquake Recovery Bill 2016 will establish a process that enables plans and bylaws to be amended by Order in Council.

“This emergency legislation will allow the local communities to be empowered to take charge of their recovery and rebuild,” Mr Bedford said. “Environment Canterbury will exercise its additional powers responsibly to support recovery. The effects of the earthquakes will be felt for a while to come and any legislative support to make this process as streamlined as possible is very welcome.”

Since the event on November 14, more than 100 Environment Canterbury staff have been working in civil defence response in Kaikōura, Hurunui and in the Canterbury Civil Defence base in Christchurch. They have been joined by local government staff from throughout New Zealand to support the immediate emergency response.