The Government has today announced plans to amend the Public Works Act 1981 targeted at making land acquisition and compensation fairer and more efficient.

The amendments, announced by Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson, will see changes to the solatium payment scheme.  This scheme provides compensation to landowners for the disruption and inconvenience caused when their property is acquired for a public work, and vacant possession for the property is given.  The maximum payment currently available to landowners is $2,000.00.  The proposed amendments will see this maximum figure increased to $50,000.00.  In addition, the Minister announced the introduction of a new form of solatium payment, where the acquisition of land for a public work does not include the landowner's home.  In this case, payment is to be set at 10% of the value of the land acquired.

Finally, new delegation powers are set to be introduced aimed at reducing the acquisition process by around two weeks.  These changes will permit the Land Information Minister to delegate the power to issue a notice of desire to acquire land to the CEO of Land Information New Zealand.