I asked a senior lawyer about provisions of the National Land Code relating to the shoreline and what the status of reclaimed land would be.
This was the interpretation (without prejudice) of the relevant sections of the Code that I received:
The relevant sections under the National Land Code (NLC) relating to shoreline, foreshore and sea-bed are as follows:
1. Section 5 interpretation:
– “shore line” means the high-water mark of ordinary spring tides;
– “foreshore” means all that land lying between the shore line and the low-water mark of ordinary spring tides;
2. Section 49 provides that where the shore-line advances so as to encroach on any alienated land, the area affected by the encroachment shall thereupon cease to form part of that land, and shall become State land, but the boundaries of alienated land shall not be affected by any retreat of the shore-line.
3. Section 51 classifies land under two categories namely-
(a) land above the shore-line which consists of town land, village land and country land;
(b) foreshore and sea-bed.
From my reading of sections 5, 49 and 51, it is clear that any land below the shore-line (which includes foreshore and sea-bed) is State land.
4. Section 76 empowers the State Authority to alienate State land:
(a) for a term not exceeding ninety-nine years [leasehold];
(aa) in perpetuity [freehold]–
(i) to the Federal Government or to a public authority; or
(ii) where the land is to be used for a public purpose; or
(iii) where the State Authority is satisfied that there are special circumstances which render it appropriate to do so.
A proviso was added to s.76 in 1985 which reads:
“Provided that nothing in paragraph (aa) shall enable the State Authority to dispose of any part of the foreshore or sea-bed for a period exceeding ninety-nine years;
Section 76 was amended by Parliament in 1985 by the insertion of a proviso to expressly prohibit the State from disposing of “any part of the foreshore or sea-bed for a period exceeding ninety-nine years”.
Hence, once the foreshore or sea-bed has been alienated by the State under s.76 as leasehold land, the State is bound by the restriction in that proviso.
Any subsequent conversion of the status from leasehold to freehold by the State, notwithstanding that the foreshore or sea-bed have now been reclaimed, would be tantamount to an attempt to circumvent the restriction in s. 76 and hence be ultra vires the NLC.
I assume all these provisions of the law are to protect public interest and to safeguard access to the coastline for the needs of the population – fisheries, recreation, defence.