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NSW begins consultation on compulsory land acquisition

Sheep Central, March 22, 2024

Power transmission lines. Image – Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

CONSULTATION into improving compulsory land acquisition processes for New South Wales communities impacted by state infrastructure or other public projects has opened.

The NSW Government today said in-person public consultation sessions will take place in Nowra, Singleton, Dubbo, Coffs Harbour, Armidale, Parramatta and Wagga Wagga, with two online sessions also scheduled to take place in April.

The Land Acquisition Review is considering a whole of government approach to acquisitions, including processes undertaken by agencies when acquiring land, roles and responsibilities, and how best to ensure consistent acquisitions under the Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991.

The  government said the review will consider potential legislative changes and improvements to acquisition processes to strike the right balance between the rights of landowners and the benefits of essential public infrastructure such as trains, roads and renewable energy projects.

Community consultations are occurring between 22 March and 3 May 2024. The NSW Government is encouraging all interested stakeholders to respond to the discussion paper and provide suggestions for improvements.

Get more information on the Land Acquisition Review, its discussion paper and how to make submissions.

NSW Farmers welcomes review

NSW Farmers has welcomed the review as being vital to improving the energy transition process.

The state farming organisation said farmers and communities in the path of major power line projects and renewable energy developments had long complained their concerns were being ignored in the race to secure Australia’s future energy supply.

NSW Farmers Energy Transition Taskforce chair Reg Kidd said the organisation had been actively advocating to the NSW Government and EnergyCo on the issue of improving compulsory land acquisition and Just Terms Compensation.

“The system at the moment is fundamentally flawed, it is completely ignorant of the needs of regional communities and agricultural production.

“This is where we’re seeing the acute problems with the energy transition and major road and rail projects right across the state, from the biosecurity impacts through to the limits placed on farming practices and the social upheaval for communities,” he said.

“NSW Farmers is committed to securing better outcomes for people being negatively impacted through this process, and we welcome this review.”

According to the NSW Government, the Land Acquisition Review would consider a whole-of-government approach to acquisitions, including processes undertaken by agencies when acquiring land, roles and responsibilities.

Consideration of measures to ensure genuine negotiations and outcomes, better coordination of multiagency acquisitions, clarifying certain compensation provisions, and potential legislative amendments to clarify requirements were welcomed by NSW Farmers.

Mr Kidd said striking the right balance between the rights of landholders, the potential impact to agricultural productivity, and the need for new public infrastructure such as railway lines, roads or renewable energy projects was absolutely vital.

“We’re looking at a future where we’ll need to feed and clothe more people but at the same time there’s the need to keep our state moving forward.

“Governments and developers must remember when they’re planning these projects that will impact existing properties that these are people’s homes, their businesses, their farms, and these things are really important to those people,” Mr Kidd said.

“So, we’ve been saying don’t just get the planning right, but do it well, be a model citizen in dealing with the damage to people’s lives and livelihoods so they don’t wind up damaging families and communities or destroying our precious productive potential.”

Key themes raised in the review’s discussion paper include improved consistency in government processes, measures to ensure genuine negotiations and outcomes, better coordination of multiagency acquisitions, clarifying certain compensation provisions, and potential legislative amendments to clarify requirements.

The Land acquisition review, led by the Department of Planning, Housing and Infrastructure, follows a joint parliamentary inquiry into land acquisition for major transport projects.

Community consultations are occurring between 22 March and 3 May 2024. The NSW Government encourage all interested stakeholders to respond to the discussion paper and provide suggestions for improvements.

Get more information on the Land Acquisition Review, its discussion paper and how to make submissions.

Minister for Lands and Property Steve Kamper said 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.

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

“We want to put people in the best position to understand their legal rights and ensure there are consistent and transparent acquisition processes across government,” he said.

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