£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.
Justin Bieber was one of the hardest hit
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
£7 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for two indivi...
£20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...
£28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a major supplier of buil...
£28000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...