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Bill sets quake strengthening times

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 10/05/2016

Legislation that sets the time frames for identifying and strengthening earthquake-prone buildings has been passed by parliament.

Under the bill, New Zealand will be categorised into areas of high, medium and low seismic risk.

Time frames for identification will be 5, 10 and 15 years, and time frames for strengthening will be 15, 25 and 35 years.

Schools, universities, hospitals and emergency buildings will have to be identified and strengthened in half those times.

"A balance has to be struck between the risk posed by these earthquake-prone buildings and the cost of upgrading and the impact on heritage," Building and Housing Minister Nick Smith said during the third reading debate.

"If we are too soft we may risk the lives of hundreds of our fellow citizens whenever the next major quake occurs.

"If we go too hard, the impact of costs on communities - particularly rural and provincial New Zealand, as well as our heritage buildings - would be too great."

Buildings such as farm sheds, monuments, wharves, bridges, tunnels and storage tanks are exempt.

Dr Smith said it was either impractical to include them or they were covered by other legislation.

Most residential buildings are excluded.

The bill passed by 120 votes to one on Tuesday night. ACT's David Seymour opposed it.

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