Posted 29th November 2010 | 18 Comments
Transport secretary unveils HS2 compensation plan
Old Oak Common near Paddington: named as future site of HS2 tunnel portal
PROPERTY owners affected by High Speed 2 are set to get enhanced compensation, and a tunnel between Old Oak Common and HS1 at St Pancras has been included in the plans for Britain's first domestic High Speed line.
These were among the key points revealed by the transport secretary when he addressed a meeting of business leaders in the West Midlands.
Phbilip Hammond said full details of the preferred route for High Speed 2 – the 400km/h new line between London, the Midlands and the North – will be published within the next month, including the plans for a tunnel from Old Oak Common, as well as proposals for a future line into Heathrow airport.
He was speaking at High Speed Rail ‘Business Debate’ at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre, when he promised that for properties along the route of HS2 there would be a compensation scheme ‘going significantly beyond the statutory requirements’. It would extend beyond properties and land directly required for the railway to include nearby properties that have their values ‘significantly diminished,’ he said.
He added that the Department for Transport had already purchased ‘about 40’ properties under the existing hardship scheme and was looking at 60 more.
The Transport Secretary vigorously dismissed objections to the HS2 plan, including claims that it would never make a profit.
“If we used financial accounting we would never have any public spending, we would build nothing and we would have no public services,” he told opponents, mainly from Coventry and Warwickshire, who heckled him.
“We have to judge investing in projects like HS2, or schools and the health service, by the benefits they bring to society as a whole. Financial accounting would strike a dagger through the whole case for public sector investment.”
But Mr Hammond warned business leaders attending the debate, organised by the West Midlands Chambers of Commerce and Industry, that HS2 opponents “are very determined, organised as well financed”.
And he told his audience: “Those who support High Speed Rail must speak up and speak out loudly and clearly – or the argument may be lost by default.”
Mr Hammond’s comments came just five days after Prime Minister David Cameron gave unequivocal backing to HS2 in The Daily Telegraph, the daily bible of the Conservative Party. Mr Cameron said High Speed Rail would have a ‘transformative’ effect and address the north-south divide. “With High-Speed Rail we have a real chance of cracking it,” the Prime Minister said, adding: “The most powerful regional policy is transport and the most powerful form of transport is High Speed Rail.”
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