Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Temporary housing and waste measures proposed for weather-hit communities

Communities hit by severe weather events would be allowed to establish temporary accommodation and additional waste disposal under two proposed interim law changes, Environment Minister David Parker said today.

The proposals, if adopted, aim to help the recovery of communities in the weather-affected regions, mainly in the middle and upper North Island, he said.

“Temporary accommodation will help people unable to live in their homes to stay in their local communities while waiting for new homes to be built or repairs to be made. Some of the temporary accommodation could also help workers coming into communities to assist with the recovery.”

“The proposed changes would reclassify temporary accommodation as a permitted activity that doesn’t require a resource consent from councils if it breaches some district plan rules, such as a limit on the number of houses per property,” said Minister Parker.

The temporary accommodation changes would apply for the next three years, providing certainty for those who have been displaced. Other requirements in relevant legislation will still need to be complied with, and the accommodation will have to be removed when the short-term law change expires.

The second proposal would support councils to help people and businesses manage the significant amount of waste and debris created by the severe weather.

Proposals are being considered to support the establishment of new landfills and temporary waste storage and sorting facilities.

“The amount of waste and debris left behind by the severe weather events is far greater than existing landfills are able to accept. Some of this waste needs to be sorted so it can be disposed of in the right way,” Mr Parker said.

Any new landfills and temporary waste storage and sorting facilities could only be established during the next two years and operate for five years. The temporary waste storage sites would have to be remediated after the five-year period expires, unless they gain consents for continued use.

Two Orders in Council would make the temporary accommodation and waste disposal measures permitted activities under the Resource Management Act. They are now being prepared by officials, who will discuss their application with affected parties including councils.

Public engagement on the proposals is scheduled to run from 28 June to 4 July 2023. More information about each proposal will be available on the Ministry for the Environment website during that time.

“Both proposals help ensure communities impacted by severe weather can focus on recovering and rebuilding, not on applying for resource consents. At the same time, we can continue to manage the environmental impacts of these activities appropriately,” the Minister said.

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