Powers of Network Utility Operators and a Person in Charge of a Public Work

A network utility operator is authorised to undertake emergency works in regard to any project or work or network utility operation, for which it is the approved requiring authority under s167 of the RMA. Emergency works can also be undertaken by a person who operates or provides a lifeline utility service or system, as defined by section 4 of the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act.

Unlike local and consent authorities, network utility operators and lifeline utilities do not have a right of entry to private property to carry out emergency works under the RMA although such rights may be provided under other legislation (e.g. the Telecommunications Act 2001).

Alternatively, the operator may have an existing easement or pre-negotiated agreement allowing for emergency access. Where entry was not otherwise legally available, a local or consent authority may rely on s330(2) of the RMA to remove or mitigate the cause of the emergency involving the projects or works of network utility operators or lifeline utilities.

Network operators and lifeline utilities should ensure that relevant staff are aware of the form of legal right or agreement for emergency access, and of the company's procedures for applying them.

Any person with financial responsibility for a public work may undertake emergency works under s330 of the RMA in respect of that public work. Such persons could include a Minister of the Crown or the Chief Executive of a government agency. For example, the Minister of Education could invoke s330 of the RMA for remedial works resulting from an emergency where a school is affected.