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NSW govt to release land report 'shortly'

AAP logoAAP 23/08/2016 Stefanie Menezes

The Baird government insists it "fully intends" to release a report on the system that allows it to compulsorily acquire land for projects such as the controversial WestConnex motorway.

The report by David Russell SC was commissioned in May 2012 but has been kept secret since its release in February 2014.

Just two of its recommendations, including the introduction of a clear explanation of the land acquisition process and the opportunity for a face-to-face meeting with land valuers, have been acted on.

Finance, Services and Property Minister Dominic Perrottet came under pressure on Tuesday following the leaking of a letter in which he urged Premier Mike Baird not to act on many of the recommendations following advice from an interdepartmental committee.

"The key concern of agencies, such as Roads and Maritime Services (RMS), is that a number of the recommendations would likely have adverse impacts including increased disputation, valuation complexity, additional costs and delay to the completion of infrastructure projects," says the letter, which is dated December 18, 2015.

But Mr Perrottet says he changed his mind about the issue after Christmas as "community concern over the issue became more apparent".

The minister wrote to the premier again in February 2016, requesting the issue be brought to cabinet "to enable additional reforms to be considered".

On Tuesday, Mr Perrottet said it was always his intention to release the report.

"This is a sensitive issue for those affected, and this government will continue to work carefully through the issues and will release the report and deliver its response shortly," he said in a statement to AAP.

"I have previously committed to release the Russell review in full and intend to keep that commitment."

The state government has acquired hundreds of millions of dollars worth of private properties to make way for infrastructure projects such as the Sydney light rail and WestConnex motorway.

Landowners have argued the process is unfair because it offers compensation hundreds of thousands of dollars below market value.

In June, Mr Baird appointed Customer Services Commissioner Michael Pratt to work with the RMS on how it manages compulsory acquisition.

Mr Perrottet met Mr Pratt on Tuesday to discuss the issue, a spokesman for the minister said.

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