Judge forces HS2 Ltd to reveal new data on blight, that shows the proposed compensation is not “generous” as Government claim

Following an FOI case, HS2 Ltd has been forced to publish the maximum distance from the proposed HS2 line of successful applicants under the Exceptional Hardship Scheme (EHS).

The FOI response shows that:

  1. The farthest distance of a successful applicant is 800m from the centre of the proposed line
  2. Two percent of successful cases are between 601 and 800 metres from the proposed line, with 46 percent beyond 200 metres from the line
  3. Distance is just one of the location factors assessed to decide if a property is adversely affected by HS2. But they are all only physical factors and do not include the property blight effects of HS2.

Hilary Wharf, Director HS2 Action Alliance, said:

Now we know why HS2 Ltd fought so hard in the court to keep this information secret. It shows that the vast majority of cases of property blight are not covered by the Government’s latest proposals that restrict the purchase zone to 60m, or 120m in rural areas. This surely gives the lie to Government proposals being “generous” and covering blight or even serious blight?

Properties adversely affected

HS2AA is also concerned about how the EHS scheme operates. HS2 Ltd admit its location criterion – that assesses if a property will be substantially adversely affected by HS2 – looks only at physical factors and ignores whether a property is blighted (and suffers a loss in value). For this another criterion must also be met.

The judge commented that their location test may defeat the purpose of the EHS scheme, as blight is about market perceptions of the impact HS2 will have on a property and not just the actual physical adverse effects.

HS2AA believes there should be just one test that measures if a property is blighted and it should be based on evidence of loss in market value due to HS2. We also consider that the hardship rules are inappropriate for a scheme whose purpose is to compensate for blight, and should be dropped.

Panel

Only two percent of successful claims exceed 600 m from the line. It is clear that the panel briefing includes the HS1 maximum figure of 600m, but that it is not qualified – yet HS1 is much slower, less frequent, and less environmentally destructive than HS2. HS2AA believes this may be unduly influencing the panel’s decisions.

Ends

Note to Editors:

HS2 Action Alliance is a national organisation making the powerful case against HS2. It is a not for profit organisation working with over 70 local groups, who all believe HS2 does not represent an effective answer to the UK’s transport, economic or environmental needs. It also fights for fairer compensation.
The FOI response letter is on the HS2 Ltd website. Their chart is shown below:

successful applications graph

The Information Tribunal appeal judgement that caused the information to be released can be read here.

HS2AA estimate that 172,000 properties on phase 1 are blighted and just 2% will be compensated under the Government’s Phase 1 proposals (consulted on in 2012/13).

For more information please contact:
Richard Houghton
Tel: 07803 178 037
Email: richardwhoughton@gmail.com