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8 May 2014, 07:41
The Country Land and Business Association has raised concerns over the level of compensation and the way it's handled ahead of the High Speed 2 rail line being built through the Three Rivers District.
Tim Broomhead from the CLA says the current compensation code allows Government to take land before any compensation is agreed and that it could take years before any compensation is agreed. Mr Broomhead said: "To date, HS2 Ltd has demonstrated a total lack of interest in the plight of landowners and rural businesses. (The recent) debate in the House of Commons reflected this neglect.
Farmers and landowners along the route are at risk of losing excessive amounts of land without fair compensation, which will devastate businesses and communities. There are landowners still waiting to see if their businesses will survive.
CLA has campaigned for fair and generous compensation for property blight and we are pleased the debate highlighted that current compensation arrangements are inadequate. However, we are extremely disappointed that neither of the speeches delivered by the Secretary of State for Transport nor the Shadow Minister made any mention of the impacts on farmers, landowners and rural businesses."
Mr Broomhead continued: "We are also disappointed that there was no discussion yesterday of the huge amount of land that is being compulsory purchased from landowners along the route purely for environmental mitigation at the expense of productive agricultural land, without adequate explanation from HS2 Ltd of how the mitigation will be delivered."
The CLA said fair compensation backed by a Property Bond Scheme would provide efficient delivery of the scheme while properly mitigating the impact for those affected.
Mr Broomhead said: "Parliament needs to look hard at the way compulsory purchase treats those who lose land, businesses and property. For farmers and landowners compulsory purchase not only affects their business, but often their home. In many cases several generations of the same family have built and improved their holding. Reasonable solutions need to be found to better address the heartache felt by so many. It is devastating to see your business ruined at the unsympathetic hands of an acquirer using an antiquated compulsory purchase system."
In a statement to Heart, a Department for Transport spokesman said: "We and HS2 Ltd have had extensive engagement with the CLA to discuss concerns. We have resolved several issues and will continue discussions with the group.
"The Government's recent discretionary compensation package for HS2 is designed to meet the needs of owner-occupiers of buildings. Some farmers will be owner-occupiers of qualifying properties and will be eligible for support.
"Moreover, the mandatory and statute-backed Compensation Code is used to determine compensation to farmers for the effect of HS2 on agricultural land. This provides well-established protections and entitlements and is able to address a wide variety of issues. The Government believes the Code is effective and has stood the test of time."