£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
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: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003