Discretion to remove abandoned coastal structures

Provide regional councils with discretion to remove abandoned coastal structures

Problem

508. Currently, many regional councils remove old, derelict and minor structures in the common marine and coastal area to promote the efficient use of space and to manage adverse effects including health and safety problems. However, legal advice has determined that regional councils do not have legal authority to remove these structures, as section 19 of the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011 (MACA Act) requires them to undertake an inquiry to attempt to find an owner when a structure appears abandoned. If an owner cannot be found, ownership passes to the Crown(DOC).

509. Undertaking inquiries for many of these structures (which will include thousands of pre-RMA coastal structures) would be impractical and costly for both regional councils and for the Crown. It will also lead to unnecessary ownership costs for theCrown.

Proposal

510. The proposal is to amend the RMA to provide regional councils with discretion to remove unconsented structures (including where permitted in a plan) that do not warrant a formal inquiry under the MACA Act. In reaching a decision that an inquiry is not warranted, a regional council must be satisfiedthat:

· efforts have been made to locate an owner but have beenunsuccessful

· the structure is likely to have no, or minimal value to any owner or to thecommunity.

511. Regional councils will be authorised to remove a structure at their discretioneither:

· in accordance with any provisions in the regional coastal plan,or

· without obtaining a resource consent or without the need to comply with any conditions in a regional coastal plan (where removal is a permitted activity) if in the councils view any adverse effects of removal are not more thanminor.

512. Following recent targeted consultation (with four regional councils), two regional councils expressed support for this proposal as it would provide a pragmatic, low cost solution where this is warranted. No councils expressedopposition.

Alternativeoptions

513. There are no non-regulatory options that would achieve the policy intent. Early on consideration was given to alternative options, including whether the Department of Conservation should have more responsibility for dealing with theproblem.

514. However it was considered that the most practical approach is to authorise regional councils as it aligns with their role in regional coastal management and with currentpractice.

515. Consideration was given to defining eligible structures according to their size or state of repair but this was rejected as it would have been too difficult to define. Instead it was considered more appropriate for a regional council to assess whether a structure is likely to have any value to any owner or to thecommunity.

Conclusions

516. This proposal is a low cost, low risk way of ensuring the efficient management of abandoned and derelict structures in the common marine and coastalarea.