The acquisition of land by Government, is carried out under the provisions of the Lands Acquisition Act.
In most instances, a negotiated agreement for the purchase of the land required by Government is sought. The compulsory acquisition provisions of the Lands Acquisition Act are usually only used as a last resort, i.e. if negotiations irretrievably break down or become deadlocked.
However, where the land is required immediately and there is no time for a negotiated settlement then the compulsory provisions of the Act will be used.
In all acquisition actions, the landowner is entitled to fair and just compensation for the loss of the acquired land.
In all acquisitions other than urgent compulsory acquisition, the landowner has a right under the Lands Acquisition Act to contest the acquisition by referring it to the Lands and Mining Tribunal.
The Tribunal will hear arguments for and against the acquisition and will then make a recommendation to the Minister for Lands, Planning and the Environment on whether the acquisition should proceed or not.
Where the acquisition is not contested or a referral has failed and the acquisition has proceeded, but agreement cannot be reached on compensation, the landowner has the right under the Lands Acquisition Act to refer the matter to the Lands and Mining Tribunal.
The Tribunal will hear evidence in support of each parties claim on compensation and will then make a determination as to the amount of compensation to be paid.
The Acquisition Section of the Department of Lands, Planning and the Environment has responsibility for carrying out acquisitions on behalf of Government.
Acquisitions are sponsored by the various agencies within Government; for example, the Department of Health where the land is to be acquired for a new health service. The Acquisition Section then acts on behalf of that sponsor to negotiate an agreement suitable to both the sponsor and the landowner for the acquisition of the required land.
The Acquisition Section use the services of the Valuer General to assess the level of compensation payable and all offers of compensation are based on the advice of the Valuer General. If a major difference arises in the amount of compensation offered and the amount sought, then a landowner may be authorised to obtain a second opinion from a private valuer. This authorisation specifies the upper fee limit which will be re-imbursed by the Government and requires that the valuation report be provided to the Acquisition Section.
In addition to monetary compensation, the Lands Acquisition Act provides for resettlement to other land, in some circumstances.