Gillan: Lack of decency over HS2 compensation announcement

Bucks Free Press: Cheryl Gillan Cheryl Gillan

TRANSPORT Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said today the compensation package for residents affected by HS2 would be announced 'very soon' - but a south Bucks MP said both sides of the Commons had 'lacked decency' by not revealing it sooner.

Chesham and Amersham MP Cheryl Gillan said people living along the route of the planned line would remain in limbo with the amount of compensation they would be entitled to still to be announced.

Mr McLoughlin provided MPs with an update on plans for the project in the House of Commons this afternoon, telling members the controversial line was still scheduled to open in 2026.

He said he had no plans to cut the £14billion contingency set aside for the project, adding it was so high because engineers had gone to "extreme lengths to meet some of the environmental concerns".

But Mrs Gillan hit back, saying: "What I'm sad about is he can stand at the despatch box and say he respects the environment when we still don't have full tunnelling under the whole of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

"None of the front benchers have had the decency to talk about compensation. We still don't know what the compensation package is. It's about time the Secretary of State came to the despatch box and announced the generous and fair compensation package the Prime Minister promised."

The former Welsh Secretary added: "It's a reflection of the poor genesis of this project that four years down the line the Secretary of State is still making fundamental adjustments to HS2.

"It doesn't matter how many justifications he puts forward, he needs to understand it's like putting lipstick on a pig. However glossy the lipstick, HS2 is still a pig."

Mr McLoughlin replied: "On the one hand I'm attacked for listening to people, then I'm attacked for not listening to people. That's one of the problems with big infrastructure projects.

"There will always be people who won't be convinced of the necessity of it, but I am convinced of the necessity of high speed rail for the great cities in the north."

He confirmed plans to link HS2 with HS1 in London would be shelved, saying the project relied on "designing it carefully and building it right".

Mr McLoughlin said: "It can do for future generations what the Victorian railways did for previous generations and what the motorways did for ours."

Comments (1)

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8:00pm Mon 24 Mar 14

Monty Cristo says...

Surely, if the cost of the project is known, this includes the compensation payments - so somehow the Government already knows how much has been allocated as a whole and therefore what the ceiling for individuals is likely to be. So why has it not been announced sooner?
Conversely, if compensation has not already been calculated how was the total announced cost of the project (42 billion) calculated - and could it increase?
I suspect that in reality the Government has said "42 Billion", and will now stick to that because of the flak they are currently getting - even if it means that compensation will be lower than those blighted by the project should be justifiably paid. We will see.
Surely, if the cost of the project is known, this includes the compensation payments - so somehow the Government already knows how much has been allocated as a whole and therefore what the ceiling for individuals is likely to be. So why has it not been announced sooner? Conversely, if compensation has not already been calculated how was the total announced cost of the project (42 billion) calculated - and could it increase? I suspect that in reality the Government has said "42 Billion", and will now stick to that because of the flak they are currently getting - even if it means that compensation will be lower than those blighted by the project should be justifiably paid. We will see. Monty Cristo
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