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Campaigners slam 'derisory' HS2 compensation package
'DERISORY' and 'cynical' is how HS2 campaigners have described a compensation package revealed by the Department for Transport today.
People living 60 metres either side of the where the line is proposed to go will receive the full value of their home and may also get a further ten per cent on top of that.
In rural areas - such as the Chiltern hills, which the route is planned to cut through - the government will ensure homeowners can sell their property at the amount it would have been worth if HS2 was not built.
But opponents of the plans said the compensation scheme - now subject to a consultation which closes on January 31 - did not go far enough.
And they also questioned where funding for the scheme - described by the DfT as going beyond statutory requirements - would come from.
Hilary Wharf, Director of the HS2 Action Alliance, said: "This is neither a generous nor the right package for those impacted by the plans for HS2. Under these proposals many thousands of ordinary people will be left with houses they cannot sell or worth considerably less than they were before the plans for this eye watering expensive white elephant were announced. It offers no prospect of relief for the vast majority of those whose lives are ruined by HS2.
"What’s on offer is derisory. It’s cynical and dishonest and gives the lie to repeated government promises that this would be the most generous compensation scheme ever. They themselves say it’s comparable to HS1’s arrangements – regarded as unacceptable 20 years ago."
Joe Rukin of Stop HS2 said: "While we are pleased that after two and a half years the government has finally recognised the damage HS2 is causing to communities along the route, we see this as a cynical, uncosted attempt to buy off the opposition to the project, and it will not work.
"Today, subject to the outcomes of the consultation, the Government has massively increased the cost of the HS2 project to astronomically unaffordable proportions. What the cost of compensation will be now is anyone's guess."
He added: "It is clear that the environmental damage which HS2 will reap has multiplied significantly today as well."
And Martin Tett, chairman of the 51m action group, said: "The announcement today changes nothing of 51m's view. The Department for Transport needs to go back to the drawing board on HS2."
All properties in the ‘safeguarded area’ 60 metres either side of the route will be bought at the full value by the government, while homeowners can sell for the full value in a 'voluntary purchase zone' 60 metres beyond that.
A long term hardship scheme to help those who need to move during the development of HS2 but who are unable to sell their home will also be set up.
Rail minister Simon Burns said: "No major infrastructure project on this scale can be built without some impact on local communities, but I am determined to do everything I can to minimise the effect of HS2 on those closest to the line.
"We have developed the right compensation package, providing absolutely the right support for those affected, while at the same time protecting the interests of taxpayers. We have thought long and hard about this and the measures I have announced are fair and strike the right balance for local communities and the British taxpayer."
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