20 December 2022
On 30 November 2022, the State Lands Protection Bill (“Bill”) was passed. The Bill seeks to put in place an up-to-date and comprehensive enforcement framework to better support the Singapore Land Authority (“SLA”) in protecting State land from misuse and damage. The State Lands Encroachments Act 1883 (“SLEA”), which contains the current enforcement framework, will be repealed. Outdated provisions will also be removed.
The key provisions of the Bill are:
- Updated definitions: The Bill clarifies the definition of a “structure” which, when erected on, under or over State land, may constitute an encroachment. This includes land reclamation works and external features protruding from buildings such as awnings.
- Enhanced penalties: Penalties in the Bill have been raised to align with comparable penalties in newer legislation such as the Parks and Trees Act 2005 which deals with State land that are nature reserves and national parks. The Bill prescribes a penalty comprising a fine of up to S$50,000 or imprisonment for a term of up to six months, or both, for the offence of carrying out unauthorised activities on or damaging State land. Higher penalties may be imposed for a repeat offence of disposing waste on State land using a vehicle.
- Widened scope of compensation: The Bill provides that offenders who are convicted may be ordered by the court to make monetary compensation for more types of loss or damage suffered by the Government due to the offence, e.g. the value of any substance removed from State land, the costs and expenses incurred by SLA in abating the encroachment, and the costs and expenses incurred by an electricity licensee, a gas licensee or the Public Utilities Board in complying with a court order to discontinue the supply of electricity, gas or water.
- Streamlined proceedings to abate encroachments: The Bill will introduce a streamlined process to enable SLA to deal with encroachments more expediently, especially those that may pose a public safety concern or delay redevelopment works on State land. The Bill enables an authorised officer to serve an encroachment notice to any person whom the officer has reasonable cause to believe is engaged in the improper use of State land.
- Resumption of abandoned land: Under the present SLEA, land abandoned for three years or more is forfeited to the State if no claim is established within six months from the date of a gazette and a notice in the four official languages is posted on the land. The Bill reduces the claim period to three months to expedite the process, and there will no longer be a requirement for a physical notice of the declaration to be posted on the land in the four official languages. Instead, SLA will publish the notice in the four official languages in the major local newspapers. This ensures that there will still be adequate publicity of the fact.