Port Stephens councillors vote to back their PFAS-hit residents in new Williamtown Special Activation Precinct land acquisition controversy

BATTLE HARDENED: Lindsay Clout at his Fullerton Cove property says many families are concerned about new compulsory land acquisition proposals.
BATTLE HARDENED: Lindsay Clout at his Fullerton Cove property says many families are concerned about new compulsory land acquisition proposals.

Port Stephens Council has expressed its support for the long-suffering residents of Williamtown, Salt Ash and Fullerton Cove who have been caught up in another proposed land acquisition controversy.

The Examiner revealed in an article published on January 28 the concerns raised by residents following a threat of compulsory land acquisition outlined as part of the proposed Williamtown Special Activation Precinct (SAP).

In response to the fears of residents, councillors at the February 23 meeting adopted a notice of motion from Cr Giacomo Arnott to support the rights and needs of residents living in Williamtown and surrounds, who have previously been impacted by living in the red zone created following the PFAS contamination from the nearby RAAF Base.

Councillors also agreed to write to the SAP project team, asking for an outline of whether any compulsory land acquisitions would occur within the Williamtown SAP, and noting the council's concern about the prospect of compulsory acquisitions for people who have been through years of uncertainty and confusion at the hands of government.

The notice had the support of mayor Ryan Palmer, who agreed the potential for compulsory acquisition of property would be "scary" for people living in the Williamtown area, but deputy mayor Paul Le Mottee was unwilling to support the motion, saying it was not a good idea at this time.

"When PFAS first hit property values were plummeting and owners wanted the government to come in and acquire their land.... now we are saying we are concerned about the government doing exactly that. It is also preemptive, there is nothing to say that is what's going to happen at this point in time."

In the report tabled to council, it was stated that Port Stephens had not received any notification of any proposed land acquisitions.

Fullerton Cove resident Lindsay Clout said it was his understanding that state planning had been regularly working closely with the council on this issue and that communication lines in regard to future proposals should remain open between the SAP team, affected residents and the council.

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