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Milestone for Queanbeyan homes with Mr Fluffy insulation in buyback scheme

The first of more than 130 identified asbestos-affected homes has been demolished at Queanbeyan in a NSW buyback scheme, showing an end to a decades-long saga for property owners impacted by Mr Fluffy insulation.

Three of eight Queanbeyan properties initially marked for clearing are ready for rebuilding as the NSW government continues its voluntary purchase and demolition scheme to rid the state of loose-fill asbestos-affected houses. 

One, in Early Street, is likely to be on the market soon for sale, while the owners of two others in Crinoline Street have chosen to keep their blocks.

While the program has identified 136 houses statewide requiring demolition in 18,000 sample tests, the Queanbeyan-Palerang region's proximity to the ACT made it a hot spot for NSW, registering 62 of the affected homes.

Another 41 Queanbeyan houses have been exchanged and 40 of these transactions have been settled. 

More homes will be demolished under the scheme later this year. 

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Member for Monaro and NSW deputy premier John Barilaro said the first demolitions in Queanbeyan provided a model for the program's continuation. 

"We hope that has now set the standard and set the program going forward, and I believe what we've seen here behind us is an example of how we can do it, [with] minimal impact on neighbours and the community," he said. 

Mr Barilaro said the NSW government learnt from the ACT in its bid to address the problem in Canberra.

In the NSW scheme, residents have the option of selling their home and land, or home only.

"When you give people choice they'll make that decision and we're seeing still the vast number are choosing just to sell up, and end this saga, and move on and get on with their lives.

"But there are some that have made the option of holding their land, and there are a couple in this area."

For blocks acquired by the government, cleared properties will be sold through an auction process. 

Home owners in the Queanbeyan-Palerang council area who kept their blocks and wish to rebuild following demolition will have their development application, drainage fee and notification fee waived for construction of a new dwelling.

Those retaining land ownership receive an amount for the affected premises, determined through an independent valuation process, and calculated as the difference between the whole property value and the land only value.

The state government is identifying more asbestos-affected sites across the NSW in an inspection and testing program," Mr Barilaro said. 

"What we are seeing there are some homes identified, but nowhere near what was reported, it could be in the thousands ... the number is quite low compared to what we had first envisaged."

The loose-fill asbestos is removed before demolition, remaining fibres are captured in a blue sealant and transported to Windellama Hi-Quality Landfill along an approved route. 

Council sampling programs between 1989 and 2009 identified 13 properties in Queanbeyan City and the surrounding local government areas of Yass and Palerang as containing asbestos material installed by Mr Fluffy, Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council administrator Tim Overall said. 

In Canberra, the ACT government found in 2014 that it was not possible to make the 1022 Fluffy-contaminated houses in Canberra safe and they must all be demolished.

They were cleaned out in a failed Commonwealth program between about 1988 and 1992.

The NSW government announced it was creating its Loose Fill Asbestos Insulation Taskforce in 2014 to assess and consider the costs and benefits of a government purchase and demolition scheme, and make recommendations on the most cost effective options.