Following the completely unacceptable ‘compensation scheme’ tabled by HS2 Ltd, I co-signed a cross-party and cross-community letter in the Camden New Journal condemning it and requesting a proper scheme that reflects the strong recommendation of the Lords Committee and the political commitment made by the Government to respect it.
The letter is reproduced below.
How does HS2 Ltd respond to a strong recommendation by a Select Committee that 1,300 households in Camden who are to be subjected to 17 years of inconvenience and disruption by HS2 works (unprecedented both in intensity and duration) should receive a package of compensation measures at an estimated cost of some £230million to £350million?
The answer is to design a Prolonged Disturbance Compensation Scheme which addresses a completely different policy objective, with eligibility criteria which are so restrictive that no one is predicted to benefit.
On December 15 2016 the Select Committee recommended that 1,300 households who qualify for noise insulation, should be offered the following compensation:
(i) Owner-occupiers should be entitled to participate in the Voluntary Purchase Scheme. This is the right to require the government to acquire the property at the unblighted price.
(ii) Owner-occupiers should also benefit from the Cash Option. This is 10 per cent of the unblighted value with a minimum of £30,000 and a maximum of £100,000.
(iii) Residential tenants who do not qualify as owner-occupiers should also be entitled to a “Lump Sum” of £10,000.
On January 17 2017 the government accepted the recommendation that households in close proximity to the construction works who are subject to severe and prolonged noise and disturbance resulting from the construction of HS2 should be entitled to additional compensation.
The government promised a scheme that would be “fair, reasonable and proportionate, in the spirit of the strong recommendation of the Select Committee”. Rather than provide additional funding for this purpose, the government have rather required HS2 to devise a compensation scheme which is to be funded from their existing budget.
The scheme that it has devised purports to offer households the option of compensation when they would otherwise be subject to noise which would render their homes uninhabitable.
However, the criteria are so restrictive that no household is currently predicted to qualify. They would only become eligible if the actual noise is substantially worse than that predicted in the Supplementary Environmental Statement (“SES”).
Residents were assured that the SES set out the worst possible scenario, the effects of which would be mitigated by the “Best Practical Means” which all contractors are expected to adopt under the Code of Construction Practice. HS2 suggest that their scheme addresses the issues raised by the Select Committee. It does not.
The cost of the scheme will be zero if HS2 construct the scheme within the scope of the SES. If they now consider that they are unable to do this, the government should rather be offering additional compensation to that recommended by the Select Committee.
We call upon HS2 to withdraw this ineffective and inadequate scheme and to devise a new one that offers the fair compensation strongly recommended by the Select Committee.
For more about my campaign against HS2, click here.