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Out on a LIM: natural hazard management

Out on a LIM - LG Dec 2016

Wendy Saunders explains the role of the Land Information Memorandum in natural hazard management.

Land Information Memoranda (LIMs) were included into the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act (1987) in 1992. Yet, more than two decades later, there remains a lot of confusion and many inconsistent approaches to managing information requirements within LIMs.

A new research report by GNS Science aims to help untangle the confusion. Out on a LIM: The role of Land Information Memorandum in natural hazard management reviews how LIMs contribute to the management of natural hazards through the provision of information.

LIMs provide a static method for communicating hazard and risk to people seeking to purchase property. Along with other methods, they offer local councils the opportunity to further communicate and manage natural hazards. The information in the LIM is able to be updated more easily than the district plan, and can potentially hold the most up-to-date information about a property.

There are two main implications for councils pertaining to information on LIMs:

  • Getting it right: If the LIM report is accurate it means that councils can avoid or reduce any liability in relation to identified natural hazards.
  • Getting it wrong: There is liability for the council if the information is incorrect or inaccurate.

The Out on a LIM report documents how natural hazard information is represented in LIMs produced in the Wellington region. The following questions underpinned the research:

  1. What is the role of the LIM in communicating natural hazard information?
  2. When should information be included in a LIM?
  3. What improvements could be made to the LIM system?

Recommendations have been made about the LIM process at national and regional levels, and for science and information providers.

National

  • A full review of the current LIM system is needed to update the intended purpose of the LIM. Section 44A has only had minor changes since 1992 and, with a greater reliance being placed on the LIM by property purchasers, the LIM system needs to be updated to reflect the changing demands on the document.
  • A central repository of legal opinions needs to be made available to councils to avoid the duplication of opinions being sought on natural hazard matters.
  • Tasking official national agencies in New Zealand to provide official natural hazard information – along similar lines to the Californian Natural Hazard Disclosure system – where agencies like GNS Science, NIWA, Scion and / or LINZ are tasked and funded to provide fit-for-purpose LIM specific maps and information across the entire country.
  • Develop a standard LIM template with consistent wording to ensure the information contained within a LIM is consistent across the country. This would also cut down the time it takes to read and understand the information contained within the LIM.

Regional / district level

  • Special LIM interest groups established within regions to create consistency for what natural hazard information is included in the LIMs.
  • Standardise at the regional level what hazard information goes in the LIMs, especially if there is evidence to show that the entire region has the potential to be affected by a natural hazard.
  • Include real estate agents and property lawyers in any dissemination of information.
  • List on the LIM any remedial works done to mitigate hazards (ie, construction of stop-banks, etc).

Science & information providers

• Requirements in contracts between councils and their information providers to ensure that reports have information summaries that are fit-for-purpose for inclusion in LIMs.


The report is available at www.gns.cri.nz/out-on-a-lim

• Wendy Saunders is a natural hazards planner at GNS Science, Lower Hutt. w.saunders@gns.cri.nz


This article was first published in the December 2016 issue of NZ Local Government Magazine.

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