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Essay: Are there any Alternatives to Compulsory Land Acquisition by Big Public Infrastructure Projects?

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  • Published: 19 September 2015*
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  • Words: 578 (approx)
  • Number of pages: 3 (approx)

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The current practice of land acquisition by big public infrastructure projects is described. Some countries apply – more or less successfully – land consolidation methods in order to satisfy the land demand of the project; the legal limitations of that practice are demonstrated. Unique is a German approach, by which the needed land can be provided property-friendly without any legal uncertainties ‘ in time and at place.
1 Introduction
States retain powers of compulsory land acquisition in order to make able governments to acquire land for specific purposes. Compulsory acquisition is the power of government to acquire private rights in land without the willing consent of its owner or occupant in order to benefit society. The nature of this power and the ways in which they are used are invariably sensitive and have wide complications, including from the perspective of international agreements on human rights and their national expressions (Munro-Faure 2008). Because of its relevance in good governance in land tenure and land administration, particularly concerning a fair implementation in case of its unavoidability, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) has been working on that issue. It collected and analysed satisfactory and less satisfactory approaches in compulsory acquisition of land and prepared a guide to support land tenure and land administrative officials, where compulsory acquisitions are being implemented (FAO 2008). Some other FAO publications supplement that guide, for instance Keith et al. (2008), Norell (2008), Langford; Halim (2008), Mangioni (2008), Kakalu (2008), Argerich; Herrera (2008); Salauyova (2008), Yomralioglu et al. (2008), Larbi (2009), which demonstrate the continuous global relevance, where governments have to provide for public good. Nevertheless, which good practice is just applied, in each case compulsory acquisition of land is disruptive for those who are affected and whose land is taken; in so far compulsory land acquisition is unsatisfactory for the involved people and causes regularly emotional reactions, wherever!
Thus, an increasing interest in alternatives to compulsory land acquisition by public infrastructure projects is to state in foreign expert circles:
Occasionally the INTERREG III C FARLAND project with seven European countries (FARLAND 2007), some meetings dealt with the ‘public request on land’ and the adequate fitting in big infrastructure projects in the landscape and the given ownership structure. A tripartite cooperation between the land consolidation authorities of North Rhine-Westphalia/ Germany, Flanders/ Belgium and the Netherlands in the fields of land development and land consolidation is focussing on the exchange of German experiences in that issue. Within the administrative partnership between province of Sichuan/ China and North Rhine-Westphalia, highest interest exists by the exchange concerning land acquisition for public projects. In France, last time SAFER (Soci??t?? d’ Am??nagement Foncier et d’ ??tablissement Rural), a Land Board which is involved in rural development and land consolidation procedures, organized two meetings with German land consolidation authorities in order to analyse and compare the French and German circumstances by big public construction projects concerning land acquisition. Actually, there is a close correspondence and communication between Republic of Cyprus as well as Greece and Federal Republic of Germany regarding more details about the legal rules within the German Land Consolidation Act (LCA 1995) concerning ‘provision of land on a large scale for projects of public interest’, and how to manage the land acquisition in big public infrastructure projects. And finally, the FAO / DLG workshop in Budapest, February 2012, dealt with ‘the new role of land consolidation’ in case of public investments, too (FAO 2012). That shows an increasing importance and obviously urgent need for sophisticated and smooth solutions by land acquisition for public purposes.

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