Port Headland residents launch class action over buyback scheme

Port Headland residents launch class action over buyback scheme
Port Headland residents launch class action over buyback scheme

A class action has been flagged against the State Government by dust-affected residents of Port Hedland over a voluntary buyback scheme for their homes.

The government announced that, under the terms of the a $200 million scheme, residents of Hedland’s West End will be offered a 35 per cent premium to the agreed market value of their homes on August 6 last year along with $20,000 for transaction costs.

The scheme is to be funded by iron ore miners such as BHP after months of negotiation between industry and residents, who have complained about the dust from iron ore loading operations at the port affecting both their health and amenity.

It will open in the second half of the year and remain open for at least three years.

Residents who bought during the last mining boom, however, are likely to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars on the original value of their homes as property prices have diminished due to the worsening dust problem.

Port Hedland Community Progress Association spokesman Jim Henneberry said West End residents wanted to see a 35 per cent premium to the “unaffected value” of their homes.

“The people of Port Hedland don’t want the port to stop growing… but do it in a healthy manner or give people their fair share and buy them out,” Mr Henneberry said.

According to Mr Henneberry, the progress association has a class action almost ready to go.

“We’re not just going to lie down and take it”, he said.

BHP WA Iron Ore acting asset president Tim Day said the company supported the voluntary buyback scheme, yet it is still unclear what proportion of the plan will be funded by individual port users.

The buyback offer comes after an ACIL Allen report which estimated the port contributed $54.7 billion to the WA economy last financial year.

The Port Hedland Industries Council, who commissioned the report, also welcomed the scheme, saying it would consult the State Government to determine a suitable funding arrangement.

The State Government said the voluntary scheme, which is available to owners of more than 400 permanent residential dwellings, would not lessen its responsibilities for dust mitigation in the town.

Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the scheme was designed to provide options to property owners in the West End whose land was subject to a rezoning to limit residential use.

“The McGowan Government is committed to developing the West End as Port Hedland’s buzzing maritime and commercial hub, backed by our investment into the Spoilbank Marina and ongoing work on future opportunities for the area,” she said.

Source: Port Hedland Dust-up published by the West Australian

Port Hedland Buyback Scheme

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