There could be a new law that requires quarries to be at least 500 metres away from any residential homes. Megan Woods, Canterbury Regeneration Minister, is considering the new law to improve air quality for New Zealand residents. In just under a year Environment Canterbury (ECan) ran an air quality monitoring programme which recorded that dust levels exceeded national environmental standards on at least 9 occasions.

The current law, the Resource Management Act (RMA), has no distance restriction. A company only must show that their work will not have a negative effect on the area.

Will this affect current quarries in operation?

Not likely. There appears to be no plans to retroactively enforce the 500-metre buffer zone to existing quarries or any that have just recently been granted consent. The new law will affect your ability to expand your quarry past the 500-metre limitation or if you are considering opening a new operation.

What’s next?
The law is still only being considered. A spokesperson for Wood said, “The minister is considering if other avenues are a more appropriate way to make change and what the best way through is.”

Even if Woods proposes to move ahead with a change in the law, the legislation requires approval from multiple players meaning that it could take many months. So, while there is no real imminent change to the law, but health concerns have been in the news lately in our industry.

What do you think? Would a new law requiring a 500-metre buffer affect your business greatly? Would it affect expansion plans or how you assess new opportunities? Or, would it be business as usual?