Landowners told: make way for hwy

LANDOWNERS in the path of the planned Pacific Highway upgrade south of Urunga are on notice to act now.

A Coffs Harbour law firm says the property owners will soon need to finalise sales agreements with the RTA as part of the compulsory acquisition of land needed for the upgrade.

Vincent Butcher from Slater & Gordon Lawyers said the RTA was expected to move soon to finalise the sales agreements on land required for the highway upgrade between Macksville and Urunga.

“The RTA are going to be approaching people in due course because of the impetus to go forward with the upgrade,” Mr Butcher said.

“The new government has advised it wants to fast-track the upgrade and I think the Warrell Creek accident last week has brought this forward.

“The RTA has made offers to all landowners in this section of the route for the Pacific Highway.”

Mr Butcher said his message to those affected was if they hadn’t already sought advice from a professional on the RTA offer, they needed to do so now.

“In many cases the first offer is only a starting point and can be increased considerably once all matters are carefully considered,” he said.

“Landowners should seek advice on their rights and entitlements under the relevant legislation before accepting an offer from the RTA.

“Often with the addition of expert evidence relating to the best use of land and the disturbance caused by the proposed works, offers may be substantially increased in accordance with the law.”

Mr Butcher said two recent settlements achieved by his firm for banana and blueberry farmers on the Sapphire to Woolgoolga upgrade resulted in initial RTA offers increase of 117% and 166%.

He said compulsory land acquisitions were made under the Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act.

The RTA has acquired 54 properties and is negotiating with the owners of another 24.

“Negotiations with the remaining 81 owners of directly affected properties will start after planning approval for the project is received,” an RTA spokeswoman said.

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