The Alliance for a Sustainable Kapiti (ASK) has responded positively to the news that the government has increased the compensation payable to Landowners where property is acquired for public works. They comment that there is widespread agreement amongst policy makers that the current situation is grossly unfair.
"This recent decision is encouraging", the chair of ASK, Dr Marie O'Sullivan, has commented. "However" she added, "it is only a good beginning. The real injustice in this process is that of the landowners forced to live within 200m of these major highways, suffering air and noise pollution, loss of amenity value, loss of backyard food production and devaluation of properties. Some landowners on the Kapiti Coast have lost all the equity in their properties as a result of the proposed Kapiti expressway".
"The government likes to pretend that there is no injurious effect from having a major highway built over ones back fence. This is plainly facetious. There is a wide body of research in western block countries quantifying the drop in property value as noise and air pollution increases. New Zealand is not immune from these devaluations.
Homeowners prefer high quality, healthy environments that are peaceful and quiet and will pay a premium for housing in these areas. The health effects of living alongside major roads with respect to heart and lung conditions are also well documented. One major study in the Netherlands found the risk of dying of a cardio-pulmonary event was almost double if one lived in proximity to a major road. In a similar vein the British Medical Association has recently called on government to put health at the centre of transport policy and take steps to improve public transport and reduce exposure to noise and air pollution.
There are approximately 1360 houses within 200m of the proposed expressway in Kapiti which will be within the internationally established yardstick of 200m for health effects from this road. These people will bear the brunt of the cost of their primary health care. They are also trapped in houses they cannot sell and receive no compensation for the loss of property value. Many of these homeowners are elderly and need to go into care, others have serious financial pressures due to being unable to sell their houses. These people are in a far worse position than the homeowners whose property is being acquired. The government needs to acknowledge that this situation is grossly unfair and take steps to provide compensation to affected property owners."