Monday, June 17, 2024

Review of NSW infrastructure and public project land acquisition impacts underway

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The state government has commenced a review into compulsory land acquisition in New South Wales, with a particular focus on whole-of-government approaches.

The review will consider how bureaucrats adopt a consistent approach to acquisitions under the Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991 (NSW). This includes looking into agency processes, roles and responsibilities when acquiring land.

NSW lands and property minister Steve Kamper said the review, which was a Labor election commitment, aimed to place people in the best position and know what their legal rights were.

The review would also ensure consistent and transparent acquisition processes were in place across government, he added.

“Compulsory acquisitions are necessary at times to allow state infrastructure and other public projects to proceed for the benefit of the wider community, such as schools, roads, water and electricity infrastructure projects,” Kamper said.

“However, there are opportunities to improve processes which are being explored by this review to help landowners negotiate more effectively on their compensation.”

The NSW Department of Planning, Housing and Infrastructure will lead the review and also consider law reform and improvements to acquisition processes.

Reviewers will also explore measures to ensure genuine negotiations and outcomes, better coordination of multi-agency acquisitions, clarifying certain compensation provisions, and potential legislative amendments to clarify requirements.

The government is interested in achieving a better balance between the rights of landowners and the benefits of essential public infrastructure such as trains, roads and renewable energy projects.

Public consultation for the review is currently underway, with two online sessions scheduled in April. The review will also visit communities in Nowra, Singleton, Dubbo, Coffs Harbour, Armidale, Parramatta and Wagga Wagga between March 22 and May 3, 2024.

A joint parliamentary inquiry into land acquisition for major transport projects in NSW considered similar issues and tabled its report in August 2022.

The government supported two of 10 recommendations of the parliamentary inquiry report, with another seven accepted in principle. One recommendation was directed to the Legislative Council.


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