Planning approvals and compulsory acquisitions are receiving a lot of attention in the media at the moment. The state government has recently stood down the chief executive of the Land and Property Management Authority, Warwick Williams, over allegations of improper dealings, a conflict of interest and acting beyond his authority in relation to the $12.2 million purchase of the Currawong site at Pittwater.

Earlier this month the Land and Environment Court ordered the State government to pay the legal costs sustained by a group known as Australians for Sustainable Development who commenced proceedings in relation to Barangaroo.  The costs order was made as a result of legislation passed a week before that hearing stating that Barangaroo was not subject to certain local planning requirements.  As a result of this new legislation Lend Lease could commence building, and the basis for the litigation no longer existed.  The Court found that this change could have been made at any time and the Court’s time had been wasted, and legal costs also unnecessarily incurred that might have been saved if the government had acted earlier.

Also this month north west of Bylong Cascade Coal announced their business plan which clearly states that they intend to develop not only the one mine they have permission for, but also three more open cut mines on the site.  The Bylong Valley Protection Alliance is pushing for the original application to be rejected, and for the entire project to instead be assessed now rather than allowing Cascade Coal to drip feed information.

A similar battle is looming in the Hunter Valley over the farming land and water resources, with mining already affecting the quality of the water in the area.  A spokesman for Tony Kelly, the planning minister who is also responsible for the legislative change at Barangaroo, has said that the farmers’ views will be ‘carefully considered’ but has ruled out freezing any work or any applications until the impact upon the local water resources is considered.

Unfortunately these sorts of matters often need to be litigated because they cannot be solved through any other process.  The examples mentioned above are all State Government controlled developments, but at a local level the Roads Minister David Borger has made headlines suggesting that the 41 local councils in Sydney be amalgamated into 8, and one of the reasons for this is the perceived vulnerability of councils to single interests (usually corporate interests).  This amalgamation probably wouldn’t solve the problem either, and there will still be a need for the courts to intervene to protect the rights of individuals.

At Coode & Corry Solicitors we can assist clients with issues regarding local government or state government developments, or compulsory acquisition of your property by a government body.  We have a number of clients who are in dispute with a government body about developments, we also have seen a recent increase in the number of disputes regarding either development by a mine, or a compulsory acquisition so that the land can be handed over to the mine.  If you have any queries about any of these sorts of matters you should make an appointment to see Bruce Coode who is experienced in these development and acquisition matters.