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The Land Transport (Speed Limits Validation and Other Matters) Act 2015 (The Validation Act) was passed under urgency by Parliament on 21 July 2015 and came into force on 22 July 2015. The Validation Act responded to concerns that some speed limit bylaws made up to that date may have –

  • referenced incorrect or revoked empowering provisions
  • been made or amended using a non compliant process
  • been revoked due to non-compliance with review requirements in the Local Government Act 2002 (Local Government Act).

The Validation Act validated specified [1] bylaws made prior to 22 July 2015 and deemed those in force on 21 July 2015 to have been validly made under new provisions in the Land Transport Act 1998 (Land Transport Act).

The Validation Act also amended the Land Transport Act to place a specific power in section 22AB for road controlling authorities to make speed limit bylaws. This provision, and not the Local Government Act, should be used by road controlling authorities to create speed limits on roads that they control. It is important that road controlling authorities ensure this is reflected in all new speed limit bylaws.

Who is responsible for ensuring speed limit bylaws are up to date?

It is the responsibility of each road controlling authority to ensure that its bylaws and decision-making are up to date.

What changes did the Validation Act make?

The Validation Act specifies that speed limit bylaws in force as on 21 July 2015 are now deemed to have been made under Section 22AB(1)(d), as amended, and in compliance with section 22AD and section 22AE — relating to consultation and publication requirements — of the Land Transport Act.

The Validation Act amended Section 22AB(1)(d) so that all road controlling authorities, including local authorities, have a clear power to set speed limits by bylaw under the Land Transport Act. [2]

Now that road controlling authorities have a specific power to make speed limit bylaws under the Land Transport Act, speed limits bylaws should no longer be made under general Local Government Act provisions [3]. Speed limit bylaws, or bylaw amendments, made on or after 22 July 2015 should be made under the above noted Land Transport Act provisions.

What is different about making speed limit bylaws under the Land Transport Act?

The process for making a speed limit bylaw should be little changed from that used previously under Local Government legislation and Land Transport Rule: Setting of Speed Limits 2003 (the Rule). In particular, section 76 of the Local Government Act applies to all local authority decisions [4] and section 22AD of the Land Transport Act says a local authority must still consult as required by section 156 of the Local Government Act.

However, as speed limit bylaws will be made (and existing bylaws are deemed to have been made) under the Land Transport Act, the review requirements in sections 158 to 160A of the Local Government Act will not apply to them.

Notification requirements

Please note that –

  • once a speed limit bylaw has been made there is a one week period in which the Minister of Transport must be sent a copy of the bylaw. For practical purposes, a copy of the bylaw should be sent to the following email address:  bylaws@transport.govt.nz. The Minister may, at any time, amend, replace or disallow a bylaw.
  • clause 7.2 of the Rule requires the road controlling authority to notify NZ Transport Agency and the Commissioner of Police before a speed limit comes into force.

What happens if the Minister is not sent a copy of the bylaw within one week of it being made?

Not sending a bylaw to the Minister within one week of it being made creates a risk that the validity of the bylaw may be challenged in court.

Please note that this applies to all bylaws made under the Land Transport Act (such as parking bylaws).

What are the consultation requirements for a speed limit bylaw made under section 22AB of the Land Transport Act 1998?

Consultation requirements for all bylaws made under section 22AB are set out in section 22AD of the Land Transport Act. There are specific provisions that apply dependent on whether the road controlling authority is a local authority, an airport authority, or any other body that is not a local authority.

For a local authority the consultation requirements for all bylaws made under section 22AB have changed. This must now be in accordance with section 156 of the Local Government Act.

156 of the Local Government Act

Section 156 requires a council to determine the appropriate level of consultation based on the council’s significance and engagement policy; and the impact for the public from the proposed bylaw or changes to the bylaw.

Where the engagement policy identifies the matter as of significant public interest or there is potentially a significant impact, then the special consultative procedure, as applied by section 86 of the Local Government Act, must be used.

If the special consultative procedure is not required, consultation must be undertaken in accordance with the principles set out in section 82 of the Local Government Act.     

A process map outlining the decision-making process needed to make a bylaw and a diagramme setting out out how the Local Government Act consultation requirements align with the Rule are attached (see Appendices).

Regardless of whether the special consultative procedure is required or not, speed limit changes should only occur following community engagement and consultation and where there is public support.

What are the review requirements for speed limit bylaws now?

The Rule says when a road controlling authority must review a speed limit and when it may review a speed limit.

Can a bylaw be made that allows speed limits to be made by resolution?

We recommend that road controlling authorities exercise caution and take appropriate advice if considering making speed limit bylaws that use resolutions to create speed limits. Although the Land Transport Act, like the Local Government Act, generally allows bylaws to leave any matter or thing to be regulated, controlled, or prohibited by resolution, the Rule contemplates that a speed limit will be set under the rule by making a bylaw.

Also, the Bylaws Act 1910 says that the discretion left for resolution must not be so great as to be unreasonable.

Use of resolutions may also infringe the principle that the law should be accessible to those who are required to comply with it, particularly if the resolutions alter a speed limit originally contained within a bylaw or are not displayed together with the relevant bylaw.

A failure to meet the requirements of this legislation may make the resultant speed limit vulnerable to legal challenge. 

Who can I approach with any questions?

The Ministry of Transport is the Government Department responsible for administering the Land Transport Act.  We can be contacted on info@transport.govt.nz, phone 04 439 9000. We cannot, however provide specific legal advice to road controlling authorities.

As noted in the appendices, the rule requires consultation with the NZ Transport Agency as part of the process of establishing a speed limit.

There is currently a Standards New Zealand model speed limit bylaw, can we continue using it?

We support the use of model bylaws. The current Standards New Zealand template has yet to be updated to take account of the Validation Act. We understand that the template is in the process of being updated but until this occurs, care must be exercised so that the correct legislation is being referred to.

Review of the Rule

The Rule is being reviewed to ensure that the setting of speed limits aligns with the new speed management framework of the Safer Speeds programme. This framework identifies safe and efficient travel speed ranges for different roads, based on a road’s classification function, design, safety and use.

The Safer Speeds framework is consistent with the cross-sector One Network Road Classification, which is a planning, investment and asset management tool for the road network.

Amendments to the Rule are expected to result following the review.

Appendix 1

Decision-making Process Neede to Make a Bylaw

 

Appendix 2

 

The following is specific to local authorities

If the special consultative procedure applies under s156(1) Local Government Act –

1

Prepare Statement of Proposal (SOP) that includes
  • either a draft of the bylaw being proposed or amended or
  • a statement of the bylaw to be revoked,
  • the reasons for the proposal
  • a report on any relevant determinations by the local authority, and, 
  • where necessary, a summary of this information (s.83(1)(a))               

2

Ensure the following is publicly available   
  • SOP
  • how people can present their views on the SOP
  • the timeframe for presenting views [not less than 1 month from first public notice] (s.83(1)(b))

3

   
Distribute the Summary of Information as widely as reasonably practicable (s.83(1)(c))   

4

Give public notice of the consultation being undertaken (s.83(1)(d))

5

Ensure people who want to present their views are given a reasonable opportunity to do so and are advised when this is to happen (s.83(1)(e))   

If the special consultative procedure is not required, consultation must be undertaken in accordance with the principles set out in section 82(1) of the Local Government Act.

The consultation principles are:

  • People who will or may be affected by or have an interest in the decision or matter
    • are provided with reasonable access to relevant information in a manner and format appropriate to their needs and preferences (s.82(1)(a))
    • should be encouraged by the local authority to present their views to the local authority (s.82(1)(b))
  • People who are invited or encouraged to present their views should be given clear information concerning the purpose of consultation and the scope of the decisions to be taken following the consideration of the views presented (s.82(1)(c))
  • People who wish to have their views on the decision or matter considered should be provided with a reasonable opportunity to present those views in a manner and format that is appropriate to their preferences and needs (s.82(1)(d))
  • Views presented should be received by the local authority with an open mind and should be given by the local authority in making a decision, due consideration (s.82(1)(e))
  • People who present views should have access to a clear record or description of relevant decisions made by the local authority and explanatory material relation to the decisions which may include, for example, reports relating to the matter that were considered before the decisions were made (s.82(1)(f)).

In either case, if the road controlling authority is a local authority, its Local Government Act consultation must still include those persons specified in the rule.

Note: Clause 7.1(8) of the Rule states that consultation required by clause 7.1 of the Rule, may be carried out at the same time as, or as part of, other consultative procedure. 

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Disclaimer – the Questions and Answers summarise applicable legislation, but are not intended to be a substitute for reference to the actual legislation.

 


[1] As defined in the Validation Act

[2] The objective of the original Land Transport Rule: Setting of Speed Limits 2003 refers to territorial local authorities making bylaws under the Local Government Act. This is no longer current, having been superseded by the Validation Act and will be amended in due course.

[3] Section 145(b) of the Local Government Act empowers a territorial authority to make bylaws for the purpose of protecting, promoting, and maintaining public health and safety. This may still be applicable if a territorial authority wishes to create a speed limit on a road it does not control.

[4] Note, though, that section 76(5) of the Local Government Act states “Where a local authority is authorised or required to make a decision in the exercise of any power, authority, or jurisdiction given to it by this Act or any other enactment or by any bylaws, the provisions of subsections (1) to (4) and the provisions applied by those subsections, unless inconsistent with specific requirements of the Act, enactment, or bylaws under which the decision is to be made, apply in relation to the making of the decision.”