Jo Haylen, Member for Summer Hill, today condemned the Baird Government for compulsorily acquiring the sub-surface property beneath Haberfield homes for the M4 East Tunnel, without compensating homeowners.
Letters were sent to Haberfield residents less than two weeks before the closure of the exhibition period for the Environmental Impact Statement, giving minimal time for residents to investigate and respond.
“This latest development is a further insult to residents already facing the full brunt of this project,” said Ms Haylen.
“In other states, homeowners are compensated for the acquisition of their land, which they are deemed to own right to the core of the earth. The Just Terms Compensation Act leaves NSW land-owners without the same rights as other Australians,” Ms Haylen said.
“Premier Baird needs to review the legislation and fairly compensate land-owners living above the proposed tunnel,” said Ms Haylen.
The letters were sent to all residents whose homes sit above the proposed path of the tunnels.
“While the tunnel is unlikely to affect the surface of your property, Roads and Maritime Services will need to acquire the rights and interests in land under the surface to allow for construction and maintenance work associated with the tunnel,” the letter reads.
“The Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991 (NSW), provides that compensation is not payable for subsurface acquisition of land or easements, unless specific circumstances apply, including damage done to the property as a result of project construction.” the letter continues.
The letter offers free property condition surveys to affected residents to assess damage to homes during the three years of construction.
Christine Hawkins, a resident who received the letter, said, “the letter came as a shock. We’re all concerned and confused.”
“I don’t think people understand that you don’t own the land beneath you; you only own up to a scratch beneath the surface,” Ms Hawkins said.
“We’ll have three years of noise and vibrations as they build the tunnels right under us, not to mention living with the fear of what could happen if something goes wrong down there.”
“The least the Government could do is afford us the same rights other Australians have in these circumstances and compensate us for the land our home is built on,” said Ms Hawkins.
Ms Haylen also questioned the timing of the letters.
“Sending the letter so close to the end of the exhibition period for the environmental impact statement is sneaky and underhanded,” said Ms Haylen.
“It seems every new bit of news we learn about Westconnex points to further inconvenience and unfairness for locals, with no greater benefit to NSW,” said Ms Haylen.