The SKA South Africa Land Acquisition Programme is one of many projects that SKA South Africa is currently embarking on to make the SKA a reality.
The SKA South Africa Land Acquisition Programme is supporting legislation promulgated in terms of the National Research Foundation and the Astronomy Geographic Advantage Act earlier.
In terms of the Astronomy Geographic Advantage Act an area has been identified as part of the core astronomy advantage area. This makes provision for the construction, maintenance and functioning of a radio astronomy research facility. It also aims to protect the site from radio frequency interference.
Land acquisition is aligned with the international determined design of the SKA radio telescope instrument. A working group consisting of the world’s foremost radio astronomy scientists under the auspices of the international SKA Organisation designed the instrument. This specific design will enable scientist to facilitate the best science and research in this field, now and in future.
The SKA South Africa Land Acquisition Programme is one of many projects that SKA South Africa is currently embarking on to make the SKA a reality. SKA South Africa supports and applies principles of good neighbourliness and trust. These principles are also being applied during the land acquisition process.
SKA South Africa Land Acquisition Process
The land acquisition process is funded by the National Research Foundation (NRF). Any mutual discussions regarding purchases will be driven by a valuation assessment, supported by as much information as possible regarding improvements made as well as registered (or unregistered) rights.
Step 1 – Notice given to affected land owners
Landowners that are affected by the land acquisition process will be contacted directly individually. SKA South Africa values confidentially and will always talk to all property owners to formalise and explain the process through a contract that defines our declaration of intent as well as make preparations for the process of (property) valuation.
Information brochures regarding the valuation process as well as the intended environmental impact assessments by SKA South Africa will be provided during dialogues with affected land owners.
Step 2 – Doing property valuations and environmental impact studies
As soon as approval is received from affected property owners a professional valuation will be done and work will start on environmental impact assessments.
An information document about the different studies and valuation process will be provided to property owners.
The environmental impact assessments will be done at the same time as the valuation to minimise the need to gain access to properties, in collaboration with property owners. Discussions related to buying identified properties will be guided by finalising the valuations and related factors.
The valuation is based on property values, improvements made and possible quantifiable losses that can be proven.
Step 3 – Provisional offer
Following the assessment a provisional offer will be made and handed over to the property owner for his/ her consideration. Discussions about the valuation will follow. A dialogue will be facilitated to develop mutual solutions during the process.
Step 4a – Accepting the offer
If the property owner accepts the offer the attorney will be asked to proceed with the transfer as soon as possible.
Step 4b – Declining the offer
If the property owner refuses the offer, SKA South Africa’s facilitator team will recommence discussions with the owner. All efforts will be made to ensure that the valuation process is better understood. Discussions can lead to a review of the offer or confirmation of the offer.
Step 5 – Final offer to property owner
Following the discussions a final offer will be made to the property owner. Properties will only be expropriated in extreme cases by SKA South Africa if all other efforts have been exhausted to come to an agreement with the property owner, leading to this final step.
The underlying transfer agreements such as when the land should be handed over, how farm workers and any unique aspects identified during the discussions should be handled, will be discussed.
SKA South Africa will be in discussions with the property owner(s) regarding this process. Alternatively SKA South Africa will meet with any other person that has legally been given instructions to discuss this process on the property owner’s behalf.
SKA South Africa is entirely committed to a mutually acceptable process for the acquisition of a specific property.