Government compensation scheme for High Speed 2 ignores the evidence says HS2AA

26July 2010– The Secretary of State Rt Hon Philip Hammond announced the results of the Exceptional Hardship Scheme (EHS) consultation for HS2 on Monday 26 July. An EHS will be introduced next month, and there will be some further arrangements announced later in the year (to apply from when the route is settled).

Consultation

HilaryWharf, Director of HS2 Action Alliance said “with over 4,500 responses, and 85% of individuals and 60% of Local Authorities and Other Interested Bodies supporting our alternative compensation solution, we are naturally disappointed that the Government persists with a lightly modified version of their original proposal. This outcome appears to have both ignored our findings and the overwhelming concerns of those consulted”.

“Unhelpfully”, Hilary adds, “the published analysis of the responses to the consultation is defective. It has not only omitted the formal submission of HS2 Action Alliance, but in particular ignored the evidence we submitted on the extent and causes of property blight as it has arisen with HS2”. This evidence was given as part of the consultation in a separate ‘Property Blight from HS2: Pilot Study’.

“When we realised this omission, we were concerned that the Secretary of State had not been properly informed when he took his decision. But we have now clarified this with the DfT, and been assured this was not the case. It would appear to just be a problem with the published analysis, which we have asked to be corrected.”

EHS

The announcement says that EHS will be implemented from Friday 20 August, but:

  • The scheme will now apply to small business owners, owner occupier farmers, recently inherited and repossessed properties.
  • The qualifying reasons for moving are no longer as restricted
  • Properties close to proposed entrances and exits of tunnels are now included.

A new FAQ has been issued, which gives some detail on the EHS. Guidance on how to apply will be available from 20 August.

HilaryWharfsaid “While we welcome these changes, they are not sufficient to remedy the scheme’s inadequacies. HS2AA believe that the EHS remains irrational and unfair. It seems still to accept some reasons for wanting to move but not others, and seeks to contain qualifying properties to a tight geographical area around route option 3. The evidence from our Pilot Study is that seriously blighted properties (eg with losses of greater than 20%) are not so concentrated. Other routes are also affected and the institutions are spreading blight.”

We know from an FOI request from the Speen Area Action Group that just £15m has been budgeted by Government for the EHS until the route is settled. For a route that is over 200kms this means very few people will benefit.

 

Further Scheme

But HS2 Action Alliance welcomes the recognition by Government that those whose properties are not required by HS2 Ltd may still be seriously affected by a new line, and that Government will consider the issues of the wider problem of property blight.

The Secretary of State intends to report to Parliament on the further arrangements to apply from when the route is settled. This report will be made after the spending review (in October) but before the public consultation on HS2 (early in 2011).

HilaryWharfcommented, “This leaves open the possibility of the Secretary of State announcing a more satisfactory scheme along the lines that we have proposed, but there is no commitment. HS2AA will continue to seek a guarantee to protect property values on whatever route is chosen, as this can actually eliminate the cause of property blight”.

“While we recognise the climate of austerity, the Government should appreciate that if HS2 cannot pay for the damage it does, including the cost of fair compensation, then HS2 cannot be in the national interest”.

“We had already planned to follow up our Pilot Study on property blight with a more detailed analysis,” she added, “but in view of the Government plan to decide on a further scheme to be announced later this year, we will now make sure the new work is available in time to inform this scheme.”

END OF RELEASE

Notes to editors

 

1. A copy of the formal consultation response on EHS and the ‘Property Blight from HS2: Pilot Study’ is available on the HS2AA website, at www.hs2actionalliance.org.

2. HS2 Action Alliance is working with over 40 Action Groups, to challenge the case for HS2 and improve government decision making in this area. Its initial focus was on securing fair and just compensation.

3. HS2 Action Alliance conducted a local and national campaign to improve the compensation proposals on which the DfT were consulting. (This consultation closed on 17 June). HS2AA’s alternative compensation solution was based on private sector best practice (commended by Councils, Conservation and community groups) and supported by evidence that the government EHS proposals did not address property blight and could be subject to legal challenge. Eligibility under HS2AA’s alternative scheme is based on a reduction in property market value due to HS2, irrespective of proximity to the line, or other arbitrary rules.

4. The Property Blight Pilot Study found substantial evidence of blight, with reduced market interest, reduced prices and reduced number of sales. Most properties including those suffering large losses (over 20%) would not be eligible under the EHS proximity rules. The blight was not confined to route 3 with other routes, notably route 2.5, affected. The institutions (eg local authorities, surveyors, lenders) are re-enforcing and spreading the blight. The Pilot also concluded a larger scale study was practicable and there was sufficient support to proceed.

5. HS2 Action Alliance is a company limited by guarantee. Registered office: The Red House, 10 Market Square, Amersham HP7 0DQ.