Posted 26th October 2012 | 4 Comments

'Generous' HS2 compensation is 'cynical', critics claim

PEOPLE affected by HS2 are being offered 'generous' and 'comprehensive' compensation according to the Government, which has unveiled its proposals in detail. But opponents of the project are highly critical of the compensation plan, with one spokesman dubbing it a 'cynical, uncosted attempt to buy off the opposition'.

The Department for Transport said its proposed compensation scheme would be 'significantly beyond statutory requirements'.

A 'safeguarded area' has been defined which covers any property within 60 metres of the line. These properties would be bought at their 'unblighted' market value plus an additional 10 per cent, although this addition will be capped at £47,000.

Rural areas also benefit from a wider zone up to 120 metres each side of the line, in which homeowners can sell their properties at their full 'un-blighted value'.

The other measures are a long term hardship scheme to help those who need to move during the development of HS2 but who cannot sell their homes, a 'sale and rent back' scheme for homeowners who wish to stay temporarily in properties which will eventually be required, and measures to 'provide clarity and reinforce confidence' in properties above tunnels.

Finally, there is a commitment to work with local authorities, housing associations and affected tenants to replace any lost socially-rented housing.

Transport minister Simon Burns said: "No major infrastructure project on this scale can be built without some impact on local communities, but I am determined to do everything I can to minimise the effect of HS2 on those closest to the line.

“We have developed the right compensation package, providing absolutely the right support for those affected, while at the same time protecting the interests of taxpayers. We have thought long and hard about this and the measures I have announced are fair."

But the official proposals are being criticised by HS2's opponents. Joe Rukin of the pressure group Stop HS2 said: "While we are pleased that  the Government has finally recognised the damage HS2 is causing, we see this as a cynical, uncosted attempt to buy off the opposition to the project, and it will not work. The Government has massively increased the cost of HS2 to astronomically unaffordable proportions. The previous budget for compensation was £800 million, which the leader of Camden Council doesn’t even think will cover the first mile from Euston. What the cost of compensation will be now is anyone's guess.”

He added that he was 'astounded' by the land take which would be required. He claimed: "It is clear that the environmental damage which HS2 will reap has multiplied significantly today as well."

Stop HS2 is one of five anti-HS2 groups which have mounted a legal challenge to the plans for High Speed rail. Eight days have been set aside for a court hearing starting on 3 December.

The consultation launched by the DfT will now run until 31 January. At the same time, HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport have also launched a separate three-month consultation aimed at local authorities. This is concerned with safeguarding the land needed for HS2 between London and the West Midlands.

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • jbzoom, Guildford

    Tony, it has been very carefully thought through. Over-runs on civil engineering projects like this are nothing like they used to be. The inexorable rise in travel and the unacceptability of building new motorways mean that HS2 is needed to prevent gridlock on the M1 and M40 as well as overcrowding on the WCML. The WCML will remain a key feeder, commuter and long-distance freight line. So far as the financing is concerned, most will come from debt that is in turn paid down by fares and/or government. Network rail can borrow as much as it likes as it is government guaranteed and the sums are small compared with our 1.5 trillion pound economy or the hundreds of billions spent bailing ouit the banks.

  • Melvyn Windebank, Canvey Island, Essex

    Seems like Tory heartlands wil get more than Labour Camden and yet most of teh countryside wont really be affected.

    I take it this will not set a norm for compensation that will apply when new roads are also built else it could be seen as anti rail if only railways have to pay higher compensation despite making far less environmental impact!!

    I take it a full list of who gets HS2 compensation will be published in order that compensation is not biased towards Tory landowner?

    As for Euston with or without HS2 Euston will still need to be re-built together with increased platforms and Tube upgrade so cost of HS2 is simply difference between cost of re-bilding Euston with current trains and Cost to accomodate HS2.

    Surely councils like Buckinghamshire should be made to pay both Pro and anti HS2 groups or neither?

  • jak jaye, LEAMINGTON SPA

    Think themselves very lucky
    ,when the Midland Railway built St Pancras they made 25,000 people homeless without a penny.
    +buying off local landowners have been a standard railway practice from day one!

  • Tony Pearce, Reading

    The whole scheme is complete economic madness with no clear idea of costs or benefits. The cost will probably be £50 billion at least for the first stage (based on large projects being about 3 times their estimated cost). Add that to Network Rails current debt of £27 billion and you have £77 billion. Presuming the UK economy recovers then interest rates on that sum will be around 6%. Total annual interest cost around £5 billion. Where's that money coming from - taxpayers or rail passengers. Would Network Rail be able to borrow any more money for other projects with this level of debt ? How many new passengers will HS2 attract ? I haven't a clue but they will get most of their passengers in competition from WCML. What will happen to WCML ? HS2 will not really be competing with the airlines until it gets to Scotland. HS2 could be a huge financial millstone round the railways of the UK and not only prevent further growth but also have huge fare rises just to pay the interest. It has not been thought though properly.