£1.3bn for those living on high-speed rail route is 'attempt to buy off critics'

Opponents of high-speed link between London and Birmingham condemn new compensation deal

A sum of £1.3bn was set aside today to compensate families
living along the route of the planned high-speed rail link between
London-Birmingham, as ministers showed their determination to press
ahead with the HS2 project.

In an apparent move to appease critics, including Tory MPs, the Department for Transport promised to pay people more than the value of their homes before they were blighted by the proposals. Someone whose house was worth £450,000 before the route emerged could get more than £500,000.

But the offer was denounced by opponents of HS2 as a cynical attempt to buy off resistance to the scheme. Campaigners had drawn heart from the Government's failure in the last Queen's Speech to publish a Bill paving the way to the construction of the £32bn connection.

But the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, told The Independent this month he was about to bring forward the legislation necessary to start work on the line, which cuts through several Tory-held constituencies.

Today, the DfT published plans to buy more than 820 homes within 60m (197ft) of the route. It proposed to pay the unblighted value of the properties, as well as additional compensation of 10 per cent up to £47,000 and "reasonable" moving costs.

People who live in the countryside – not in built-up areas such as North London – that are between 60m and 120m away from the track will be entitled to the full worth of their homes. Residents who refuse to accept the offers would have their homes seized under compulsory purchase orders. The unblighted values will be assessed by independent surveyors appointed by the DfT, which envisages that it could pay out £1.3bn. Simon Burns, the Rail Minister, said yesterday: "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."

But Joe Rukin, of the Stop HS2 campaign, said: "We see this as a cynical, uncosted attempt to buy the opposition, and it will not work. The Government has massively increased the overall cost of the HS2 project to even more astronomically unaffordable proportions, while still leaving many homeowners in limbo."

Hilary Wharf, of the HS2 Action Alliance, said: "What's on offer is derisory. It is cynical and dishonest and gives the lie to repeated Government promises that this would be the most generous compensation scheme ever."

The HS2 link, which is due to be completed by 2026, will cut travelling times between London and Birmingham, will pass through Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and Staffordshire.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions