Minister rejects call for red zone status to be dropped

8:39 am on 3 April 2013

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says getting rid of the red zone status in Christchurch would not make it easier for residents to get insurance.

The Government's voluntary buyout offer to house owners in the red zone expired on Tuesday evening, with some landowners declining to sell their properties.

By last week 5930 people had settled with the Crown and 272 had not. The final numbers will be released on Wednesday.

Some red zone residents in Christchurch want the Government to drop the status so they can continue living in their homes.

Former television presenter Olly Ohlson, who lives in Brooklands, says he sees no reason why people can't stay in the red zone.

Mr Ohlson told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme residents had a loaded gun to their head and he described the process as thuggery. He says it would alleviate stress for people if the red-zone status was lifted, which might make it easier to get insurance.

Ruth Gilmore has lived in Brooklands for more than 30 years and has refused the Government buyout offer. She says the land her house is on should not have been zoned red.

Mr Brownlee says the suggestion that lifting the red zone assessment would improve matters for residents is wishful thinking, as insurers and banks would be considering the area's underlying geology when they made contracts.

He told Morning Report residents who remain will have accepted they will live with less reliable water supplies and sewerage.

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority warns of several risks facing those who refused the Government's buyout offer.

It says basic services like water and sewerage may not be maintained, insurers might not renew their policies, and the authority retains the power to compulsorily acquire the land at a later date.