Delay Confirmed on HS2 Compensation Consultation.

Transport Secretary Justine Greening yesterday confirmed a further delay in what would be the third consultation on HS2 compensation would happen at the very earliest in September, not ‘spring’ as has been previously billed. However, whilst the press release from the DfT has been interpreted as stating that the consultation would start in September, it is likely to be later than that. The key phrase in the press release from Justine Greening is;

“I am keen to consult as soon as possible to provide people with certainty but, given the nature of the issue and its implications for Phase 2 and work to assess stations and route options, it is clear to me that the detailed work to fully assess options means that we will consult on the property and compensation package for HS2 after Parliament returns from its summer recess in September.”

If part of the reason for delay is the logical hypothesis that stage two of the scheme would have to have the same compensation package as stage one, then in fairness, the routes for stage two would have had to have been announced before the next compensation consultation could take place. There would then have to be a reasonable time lag between the announcement of the stage two routes and the start of any such consultation.

Stop HS2 Campaign Coordinator Joe Rukin said;
“The reality is that this announcement does nothing to help people who are distressed and in turmoil for at least another six months, or even longer. There are people who have had their lives on hold for two years now because of this scheme, and this delay is just another example of the fact HS2 has been from the start a rushed job which has not been thought through properly. The statement suggests that HS2 Ltd and the DfT are going to have to publish Stage 2 before the third consultation on compensation happens, so again we have an open-ended timetable with no sign of certainty for those who desperately need it. The only definite thing is people would have been better off in 1844 when landowners got almost twice the value of their land when railways were built.”

“Because Greening and Philip Hammond before her have both said the compensation package with HS2 would be above the norm, the Government have been constantly panicking about how they can do this and how much it will balloon the costs of this gargantuan white elephant beyond the realms of feasibility.”

“As important as how much the package will pay out is the ability to qualify. The current EHS scheme is more or less impossible to get, and currently if you live just by the line and it doesn’t go through your property, you would have to live with the construction and wait until the line had been operating for a year to claim. In other words, if a was child born on the day HS2 was announced in 2010, it would be studying for a-levels before their parents would be eligible to claim for compensation the way things work at the moment. This must be addressed.”

Independent Great Missenden Councillor Seb Berry said;

“The arrogance of this Government appears to know no bounds. Greening, who refuses to visit any affected area, now cries crocodile tears for those whose lives have been put on hold and worse by HS2. Back in February Greening said she recognised the urgency and that she wanted a “spring” consultation. The DfT have sat on the property bond proposal now for well over a year and yet still the wait goes on and on. Local people are crying out for certainty and an end to HS2, but all she can offer them is platitudes, blight, blight and more blight. If her own Putney residents were being treated in this way, she’d be the first to jump up and down in protest.”

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