Press Release 11 March 2011 – STOP HS2 highlights a year of Stolen Futures

Stop HS2 Limited is the National Campaigning Organisation against High Speed Two (HS2).

Last year on 11 March, Lord Adonis announced

“I am today publishing HS2 Ltd’s report together with the Government’s proposed high speed rail strategy, which is based on HS2 Ltd’s analysis”

he referred to the route selected and detailed reports were published that day on the Dft website. Please note HS2 Ltd’s analysis was the basis for the report. HS2 Ltd was formed by exchange of letter and HS2 given a budget of £9m (which was not tendered for) to produce a high speed rail proposal – not an integrated transport solution.

At no time did anyone from the Government contact those whose homes and property were underneath the proposed route. A year has passed and still no one person directly affected has had any formal notification from the Government their home or property is at risk. Many victims found out from journalists knocking on their doors or via chatter on the internet. Worse still minor tweaks to the route have spared some at the expense of others and Lizzy was walking the route when this happened and saw for herself the disbelief, despair and anguish of some of these people as it happened.

Today marks the anniversary of Lord Adonis’s announcement. People, businesses and communities have been living with the blight of HS2 for an entire year. Some homes have already been purchased under the exceptional hardship scheme and are boarded up with steel shutters.

Futures were stolen by the Government on 11 March last year. People suddenly, without any warning, were told their property was now valueless, unsellable and unwanted. Families have faced tormentous decisions about maintenance, upkeep and care for their homes. Schools are suffering as communities stagnate. Business units go unlet as no one will now look at them. People are unable to sell, move or in some cases raise finance because of this unofficial blight situation. This is one family’s story so far: –

“OUR ONE YEAR OF MISERY Anniversar​y

In March 2010 we heard that the Government proposed to build the new High Speed Rail (HS2)  less than a 100yds from our front door.   The worry about this was a serious dampener to our visit to our son in New Zealand a few days later.   It was little help when six months later the Government, on a whim, changed the route so that the line would run on the other side of our house and be visible from all our windows.   For the last twelve months we have had to live with the stresses and strains of the facts:-

–    the noise from the rail would make it impossible to sit in our garden,

–    no-one would be likely to want to buy the house for even a fraction of its previous value,

–    we are in our seventies and it would probably prove impossible to move to another property,

–    we stood to lose our life savings which we had invested in our home,

–     and could not look forward to a comfortable old age.

Even the Government’s much vaunted exceptional hardship scheme was unlikely to apply to us and in the longer term there would be no compensation as the line did not actually cross our garden.

As you can imagine, we spend a great deal of time worrying about this and it has caused us great anxiety and stress which has impacted on every aspect of daily life.   One particular incident was, we believe, caused by the distraction of the all-pervasive stress.   My wife lost her footing on the stairs and fell breaking her ankle very badly and dislocating her shoulder.  This resulted in a months stay in hospital.  Although she is recovering steadily, it is likely to be another six months at least before she will walk without discomfort and a limp.

You will understand our anger at the treatment meted out to us by Government Ministers who are pursuing a “Vanity Project” which is a dreadful waste of public money.   If the project were to go ahead, the country would be lumbered with a “White Elephant”, albeit a “Fast White Elephant” as one cartoonist put it.

Richard and Jan Kenyon”

The EU Human rights act gives us all rights to enjoy our property

“Protocol 1, Article 1: Protection of property

Every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions. No one shall be deprived of his possessions except in the public interest and subject to the conditions provided for by law and by the general principles of international law.

The preceding provisions shall not, however, in any way impair the right of the State to enforce such laws as it deems necessary to control the use of property in accordance with the general interest or to secure payment of taxes or other contributions or penalties.”

Lizzy Williams, Chairman of STOP HS2 said “we consider the Government’s appalling treatment of those whose property is directly affected by the unapproved plans for High Speed 2 to be a dangerous legal precedent in the UK. People deserve to be notified and consulted formally if their property is affected and this has not happened. We believe this contravenes the Human Rights Act which entitles us all to peaceful enjoyment of our possessions. The Government has not been able to prove beyond doubt that HS2 is in the general interest and therefore they do not have the right to blight these people.

What makes it really hard for people is understanding the level of impact without paper copies of the maps (they are too large to print out on line at a scale you can read) and the red line used to mark the route does not show the real extent of the construction leaving huge uncertainty about whether their home will remain standing or not. These people have had to rely on people like us to see the information.

Sending out invitations to the limited number of consultation roadshows is inadequate. These people have had no support or detailed information from the Government despite being expected to sacrifice their homes. Compensation as outlined currently if and when the scheme goes ahead is not enough.

It is appalling that HS2 Ltd discussed the details of the route with Local Authorities prior to the announcement last year forcing them to enter into confidential commerciality agreements and thereby not be in a position to support the people they are paid to represent.

You think if you work hard and pay your bills your home is your castle in the UK.You plan your future around your home and when that is no longer yours to enjoy many feel they do not have any future or if they do they have no idea what or where it will be. It’s the uncertainty that is hardest. People’s health is suffering considerably under the pressure.

If they can treat people this way on HS2 they can treat anyone of us the same on similar projects in the future. STOP HS2 will support Judicial Review against the Government in their handling of HS2 by individuals or organisations where there is a case to do so. We believe the Government has failed and is still failing to protect our human rights in its handling of HS2. “

Note to Editors

  1. For more details about STOP HS2 please visit www.stophs2.org
  2. To sign the petition for a parliamentary debate on HS2 http://www.gopetition.co.uk/petitions/stop-hs2/sign.html.
  3. For any queries relating to this press release please contact the Chairman, Lizzy Williams in our Banbury office in 01295 760802, mobile 07842 164880, email chair.stophs2@gmail.com. Follow Lizzy on Twitter “chairSTOPHS2”.
  4. For Social Media enquiries please contact the Social Media Director Penny Gaines on 01296 655613, mobile 07765780553, email info@stophs2.org. Follow Penny on Twitter  stophs2.
  5. To join in the STOPHS2 banter online follow @charliechiltern or facebook Charlie Fox
  6. Follow STOP HS2 on facebook stop.hs2
  7. Are we using the wrong address? If so, please accept our apologies for any inconvenience and let us know. Thank you.

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