‘Consult and ignore’ compensation schemes may disappoint MPs on HS2 Committee.

HS2 Ltd have today (16th January 2015) launched new compensation schemes for those affected by Phase 1 of HS2. The schemes, which were meant to have been in place by Autumn 2014 appear to be unchanged from the plans proposed in the 2014 consultation, with the ‘Need to Sell’ scheme simply being a rebranding of the previous ‘Exceptional Hardship Scheme’.

The Express Purchase and Rural Support Zones allow for HS2 to buy properties within 60 metres and 120 metres from the centre-line between the proposed tracks in rural areas which do not have tunnels. Homeowner payment zones, where people living up to 300 metres from the centre-line could receive payments between £22,500 and £7,500 will not be in place until after the Bill is passed into law, which is expected to be another two years at least.

Most controversially, the ‘Need to Sell’ scheme for people living more than 120 metres from the centre line is unchanged from the proposal which was consulted on in 2014, and is effectively a rebranding of the Exceptional Hardship Scheme, which has so far only paid out on 40 of the 158 applications (25%). This is despite the fact the HS2 Hybrid Bill Committee stated that they wanted to make suggestions on how to improve the proposed scheme. On 26th November, Robert Syms the chair of the committee made this statement:

“On compensation, we request that HS2 give us sight of the proposed Need to Sell scheme as soon as possible, so that we can review the guidance and criteria and make suggestions for improvement. These suggestions might include a change of name for the scheme and the scheme should include a way of obtaining advance clearance to deal with situations such as those of the Franklins, from whom we heard yesterday. We accept HS2’s offer to prepare a paper on the property bond proposal and we await that with interest.”

On 16th December Mr Syms reiterated:

“The plan at the moment is for the launch of the scheme sometime in the middle to end of January on both the Need to Sell and the Voluntary Purchase Scheme.  At least that should give us an opportunity to look at it and to have some input before final decisions are taken.”

It had been widely believed that the committee felt the term ‘Want to Sell’ would be more appropriate for the scheme, and that the requirement for people applying for compensation, to have first tried to sell their home on the open market, should be relaxed. People seeking compensation have found that many estate agents, knowing blighted properties would not sell, have asked for marketing fees up front. Instead of relaxing these rules, HS2 now say that people must have sought a “reasonable range of marketing proposals from more than one recognised estate agent.”, and still would have to have their property on the market for at least 3 months without having received an offer of 85% or more of the asking price.

Whilst people applying for the old EHS scheme had to demonstrate ‘financial hardship’, this has now been rebranded as an ‘unreasonable burden’. Applicants will have to qualify under five criteria, which include having a ‘compelling reason to sell’ for reasons such as moving or losing employment, divorce, illness or retirement, and that those issues would create an ‘unreasonable burden’ to the homeowner within three years of the application.

Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin responded:

“Yet again, we have another case of ‘consult and ignore’ from HS2 Ltd, as looking back at what was proposed in the consultation, nothing seems to have changed and the proposals are a long way from the ‘full and fair’ compensation schemes which were promised by Government. However, it seems that this time, they haven’t just ignored the thousands of people trapped in homes blighted by HS2, but they seem to have also ignored the committee of MPs who have heard evidence from dozens of people saying they do not qualify for compensation. It will be very interesting to see how the committee react to this.”

Penny Gaines, Chair of Stop HS2 added;

“There was a lot of ‘we’ve listened to what you say, but we’re ignoring it’ in the document.  It’s quite clear that this was just another faux consultation, aimed at making the government look like it was listening to what people had to say with no intention to make any changes to their plans.”

4 comments to “‘Consult and ignore’ compensation schemes may disappoint MPs on HS2 Committee.”
  1. As “Davis” said, the Govt. is determined NOT to listen, they are just not interested in peoples’ concerns, the compensation package remains derisory, did they really consider the Property Bond or are they terrified that the costs for this stupidity are totally out of control. The message coming from the parliamentary committees is that at the very least compensation should be widened. Remember HS2 is a Govt idea,it has never been looked at critically, no popular mandate indeed around 60% say NO!

  2. Have just read about the level of opposition to the high speed train in Italy.I don’ t support law breaking but fully understand the frustration when politicians show so little respect for their citizens

  3. Does anyone have experience making either a complaint of maladminstration to the European Ombudsman or to the Aarhus Convention Council for an internal review where you or the Parish Council were not consulted when all options were still open please.

    The relevant EU on-line resources and activities through Europe are:

    1. Aarhus Convention Council Requests for internal review
    Requests for internal review of an administrative act or relating to an administrative omission are to be sent by mail or e-mail to the department responsible for the application of the provision on the basis of which the administrative act was adopted, or in respect of which the administrative omission is alleged.

    With respect to acts or omissions falling under the responsibility of the Environment Directorate-General (‘DG Environment’) of the Commission, the following address and contact details may be used:

    Postal address:
    Request for internal review under Title IV of Aarhus Regulation
    Environment Directorate-General
    European Commission
    B-1049 Brussels

    E-mail: ENV-INTERNAL-REVIEW@ec.europa.eu

    2. Better access to Justice through the European Ombudsman: any citizen or resident of the EU (or a business, association or other body with a registered office in the Union) can make a complaint to the European Ombudsman. He investigates complaints about maladministration by institutions and bodies of the European Union.

    There are locations along the HS2 Route where the Environmental impacts are severe. Amenities to be lost. Power feeders that will change villages andd hamlets.
    Depots which were sited without sufficient consideration of all the options.

    Can you help to prepare the complaints to submit for your Parish or group or self.

    Thank you.

  4. As soon as we get rid of this govenment who just don’t listern to people’s concerns the better .No doubt the MPs who are on the committee will be looking at the general election to see if they can carry on if they do not win

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