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The common law has often assumed that the proprietor of surface property also owns everything above and below. The advent of air travel required upper airspace property to be limited to within reasonable use, so that aircraft navigation could proceed unencumbered by private property – i.e. the airspace is public. With an increasing requirement to use subterranean space for transport tunnels and infrastructure, similar issues are arising about a reasonable lower limit of surface property. The public interest in providing underground public services and infrastructure may take priority over private property.

Subsurface Property Tunnel

Selected publications and outcomes

Strack, M. & Thom, J. 2021. Digging down into Property. The Vertical Extent of Property. Australian Property Law Journal.

Thom, J. & Strack, M. 2017. The Multiple and Conflicting Definitions of land. Surveying+Spatial. 92:7-9&27

Strack, M. & Thom, J. 2016. Claiming the Underworld – ‘ad inferos’. Surveying+Spatial. 87:15-17. September 2016 NZIS.