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More workable approach to cleaning up land

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 9/09/2016

The government says changes to rules for cleaning up contaminated land before development will save developers $60 million over 20 years.

The government is consulting on changes to the National Environmental Standard on Contaminated Soils to make it more workable, says Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith.

"We do need a system for identifying sites that have had previous uses that may pose a health risk but we also need to ensure we are not adding disproportionate costs and delays on new developments, such as housing," he says.

Land previously used as horticultural land, livestock dips, old gas works and other chemical uses has to be cleaned before it can be built on.

The standard provides a national approach, rather than each council having its own rules.

The changes adopt a risk-based assessment when deciding whether the standard applies to a site.

Resource consent requirements for low-risk activities are removed and there are options for site-specific management.

"These changes are estimated to save $60m to the housing development sector over the next 20 years. They are one of dozens of measures we need to take to improve the supply and affordability of housing," Dr Smith says.

The consultation closes on October 14 with the aim of the amendments being in place by mid-2017.

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