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When you must notify us
You must notify us when responsibility for post-1989 forest land in the ETS transfers from one party to another. The specific rules that apply to you will depend on:
- whether land is being transferred to you or whether you are transferring the land, and
- the circumstances under which the land is being transferred.
Check the rules that apply to you
Buying, selling or inheriting forest land
When post-1989 forest land in the ETS changes ownership or agreements over the land change
Forestry rights and leases involving ETS forest land
What happens if you haven’t notified us properly
If we aren’t notified about changes in who is responsible for post-1989 forest land in the ETS, the party or parties responsible for notifying us could receive an infringement notice and fee.
The party responsible for submitting the emissions return could also receive a penalty if this return is submitted late, or not submitted at all. Penalties can also apply if you submit an inaccurate emissions return and for delays in paying (surrendering) New Zealand Units (NZUs or units).
We haven’t been properly notified if:
- nobody submitted the correct form notifying us that ETS responsibilities for the land transferred to another party within the required timeframe (see below)
- one party submitted the form without involving the other party – both parties must sign the form
- one party gave us their information and the other party didn’t
- the information sent was incomplete
- you didn’t submit a shapefile (digital map) if a part of a carbon accounting area is transferred
- the wrong form was used
- the fees weren’t paid
- an accurate emissions return was not completed and submitted for each area involved in the transfer, for the date of the transfer.
The timeframe for sending the form depends on the transaction taking place. The responsible party must submit the form:
- within 20 working days of the transfer if the ETS land is sold, or if a registered forestry right or leasing agreement is granted, transfers to another party, expires or is terminated
- as soon as is practically possible if the land transfers because something happened that means it had to transfer under the law, for example, if you inherit or buy ETS land from an estate after someone passes away, or in cases of insolvency.
If we find out you haven’t notified us properly, we can:
- intervene, based on our information, assumptions and estimates
- remove the land from the ETS.
We can intervene
If ETS responsibility for the land is transferred and we find that we haven’t been properly notified:
- we will inform the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA)
- the EPA will send a notice to the parties concerned to let them know we intend to resolve the matter
- this notice will contain a deadline for submitting the signed form, emissions return and other required information.
If we do not hear from you by this deadline, we can amend, finish or prepare the notice and the emissions return. We’ll base this on the information we have. The law allows us to make assumptions and estimates if we need to.
Once the notice and transfer is completed, the new owner or rights or lease holder is responsible for the land under the ETS. If they don’t have a holding account in the NZETR, we will ask them to open one and to give us the details.
Find out more about the NZETR and earning and surrendering units
We can remove the land from the ETS
If the transfer went ahead and we find that we haven’t been adequately notified, we can also remove the land from the ETS completely. In this case, the person or organisation presently responsible for the land in the ETS (the current owner or rights or lease holder) will be liable to pay the balance of the units for the areas removed from the ETS.
Before we can remove land from the ETS, we must:
- contact one or both of the parties concerned to let you know when we plan to do this
- give you a deadline to submit the notice and emissions return with any other relevant information.
This deadline is usually 6 months after the end of the mandatory emissions return period during which the responsibility for the land changed. A mandatory emissions return period is a period of time over which all parties with post-1989 forest land must report on their forest carbon. If the usual deadline has already passed when we find that notice wasn’t given properly, we’ll give you a deadline of 90 working days.
If you still haven’t properly notified us by the deadline, we can remove the land from the ETS. We can also do this if we are unable to contact either party involved because we can’t identify you or your current address.
Find out more about mandatory emissions return periods
If responsibility for the land changed hands more than once, we can still remove the land from the ETS by following the process above. In this case, the party that first transferred the land without notifying us will be liable to pay the balance of units for the land involved.
When we weren’t notified about a previous transfer
If you are acquiring land, it’s advisable to ask your lawyer to check if the land previously entered the ETS. If land enters the ETS, a notice is added to the land title (called a “notice of status of forest land”).
If we were not notified properly about previous transfers of land, you could be liable under ETS rules for the land before it came into your possession. This applies even if you fully notify us now.
For example, if forest on the land was entered into the ETS as post-1989 forest land by owner 1, it was sold to owner 2 without notifying us, and you (owner 3) then bought this land, you are responsible. This means you are participating in the ETS for this land.
Because nobody notified us of any transfers since owner 1 originally sold it, you’ll be responsible for the land from the time it originally sold and before you bought it.
We’ll require an emissions return from the day the land first transferred from owner 1 to owner 2. You will be given a deadline to prepare this, or we will prepare it on your behalf.
You are accountable for what happened on the land after the starting date of this emissions return, even though you didn't own the forest. Depending on how the forest entered the scheme, and what happened after it joined the scheme, you may be:
- eligible to claim units
- liable to pay (surrender) units for any greenhouse gas emissions for any harvesting or deforestation.
We’ll work out what units you earned or must pay for the time you did not own the forest. We’ll also arrange to update the NZETR.
Find out more
Transmission of interest in post-1989 forest land - NZ Legislation