With around three months until the anticipated closure of the Port Hedland Voluntary Buy-Back Scheme 57 per cent of eligible properties have been sold to the Hedland Maritime Initiative. The PHVBS was announced in 2020 and provides homeowners in Port Hedland’s West End the opportunity to sell their homes to the HMI. The scheme was established after a report from the Dust Management Taskforce found dust levels in the area could have a negative health impact on residents. Due to the report, the zoning of the area was changed and the Government announced an industry-led buy-back scheme that would allow homeowners to sell their property back to the State. With the scheme expected to close on December 31, 2023, 232 of the eligible 404 properties have been sold, with 43 per cent still available. Pilbara Ports chief executive Samuel McSkimming said he anticipated the number of purchases to increase but it was never expected that all properties would be acquired by the time the scheme closed. “As of 21 September 2023, 232 of the estimated 404 eligible properties have sold or are in the process of selling to the Hedland Maritime Initiative,” he said. “Owners of 87 per cent of eligible properties are engaged in the voluntary scheme, so it is anticipated that this number will increase before the scheme closes. “We expect participation to increase before the end of the scheme. As a voluntary scheme, it was never expected that 100 per cent of eligible properties would be acquired, and we are pleased with the level of participation achieved.” The eligible homeowners were offered market value for their property in August 2019, indexed according to the market, with a 35 per cent premium on top. Mr McSkimming said he encouraged all homeowners to engage with the initiative and decide what was best for them. “The Port Hedland Voluntary Buy-Back Scheme provides eligible owners an opportunity to sell if they are concerned that land use planning changes may affect the value of their properties, but the best option for each owner will depend on their unique circumstances,” he said. “We do encourage all eligible property owners to engage with Hedland Maritime Initiative to understand their options.” The HMI is also working on the Maritime Precinct Development, a project that seeks to develop an area from Taplin Street to the West End. The MPD aims to develop the commercial, tourism, leisure, cultural, and educational uses of the area and is partly dependent on participation in the PHVBS.