Targeted approach to earthquake strengthening will be better for locals

Monday, May 11, 2015

Rotorua MP Todd McClay says that new policies for managing earthquake prone buildings will be welcome news for many Rotorua building owners who faced significant - and in some cases unnecessary costs. Announced yesterday, the Government will revise its policy on managing earthquake risks by better targeting regulations on buildings most at risk and setting more realistic timeframes for upgrades to be completed.

The location of the building, use and likelihood posing risk to life will now be assessed when deciding which buildings need to be checked or strengthened, while other types of buildings are removed from requiring assessment and strengthening altogether. The changes also mean that three new risk zones of low, medium and high risk will be created. This means buildings in high risk areas will be assessed and strengthened first.

Rotorua will be placed in a medium risk area, which means that assessments will be carried out within the next 10 years, with strengthening to be done in the next 25. Around 470,000 buildings nationwide will no longer require assessments, which will mean significant savings to building and business owners.

“These changes will save local people a lot of money on expensive assessments and strengthening. This more targeted approach, removing some buildings and prioritising schools and emergency buildings, reduces the overall cost for building owners nationwide from $1,36 billion to $777 million.” says Mr McClay.

“At the centre of this new announcement is public safety and minimising future injuries or deaths. The changes will mean a more rational approach to seismic strengthening, where buildings in high risk areas are assessed and strengthened first. It also means that education and emergency buildings are put to the top of the list, to ensure our children are safe and that hospitals stay open when needed the most” says Mr McClay.