PHOTO: Cook Islands

A new law has triggered fears Cook Islands landowners could be forced to sell property for big projects in a return to the colonial days of property confiscations.

The Cook Islands News reported the Government can now compulsorily purchase property if landowners refuse to hand it over.

Traditional leaders worry the country is heading back to the old practice where government took land by “force”.

During the consultation process, Koutu Nui president Terea Mataiapo Paul Allsworth, said the leaders opposed sections of the new Infrastructure Bill that allowed the government to take land by warrant.

Despite the concerns the bill has been passed by Parliament with support from both sides of the House.

It comes after problems getting land access for big projects like Te Mato Vai.