Transport Minister Michael Wood has pledged compensation to minimise the adverse impacts on businesses and the community from the light rail project.
Whichever of the three options for the Auckland light rail project are given the go-ahead later this month by the Government, there will be significant disruption caused by construction along the route.
Wood says this has been given a lot of thought – especially in light of the disruption seen by businesses from the construction of the City Rail Link (CRL).
"My reflection on the CRL project is that there should have been support and compensation built in and budgeted from the beginning – that is international best practice," Wood says.
"We can't go back in time and fix that – we have dealt with it this year."
After months of requests, demands and frustrations from businesses impacted by the CRL construction, Auckland Council and the Government established a $12 million Targeted Hardship Fund to support small businesses experiencing hardship surrounding the Aotea, Karangahape and Mt Eden Station sites.
"The lesson is that we need to do the same for other significant scale infrastructure projects that will have a high level of disruption like this one," says Wood. "There will be significant disruption, there is no way of building these city-shaping pieces of infrastructure in existing urban areas without disruption."
A business support and targeted assistance scheme will be developed in consultation with the community to minimise adverse impacts of the project on businesses or individuals during construction.
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"We will do more detailed work on that at the next phase, I expect with a high level of engagement with communities up and down that corridor including through groups like business associations to develop that," Wood says.
"I want to see a strong compensation package in before construction begins, that supports people in non-financial ways, but also has clear financial support when that is justified as well.
"Internationally, that can be in the form of support for lost earnings, it can be support for people to temporarily or permanently relocate if that's the best thing for them – we will explore all of those options."