7:30am Friday 17th May 2013
By Andy Carswell
THREE quarters of the applications for compensation from homeowners affected by the HS2 project have been unsuccessful, statistics show.
Figures from the Department of Transport revealed this week show that 299 out of the 455 applications for compensation under the Exceptional Hardship Scheme have been refused.
Residents are entitled to claim for compensation if they are able to demonstrate they've been unable to sell their homes because of the impact caused by the planned high speed railway line.
Anyone living within 60 metres of the proposed route will have their homes bought by the government for 110 per cent of their total value.
But campaigners say the fact dozens more have been left in limbo demonstrates the compensation guidelines need to be re-examined.
Hilary Wharf, director of the Amersham-based HS2 Action Alliance, said: "The rules of the exceptional hardship scheme are being drawn far too tightly.
"This is a compensation scheme that the evidence shows is simply not fit for purpose. It offers compensation to virtually nobody and this is despite the hundreds of thousands homes blighted, many rendered unsellable, with only a tiny fraction of people qualifying for the scheme.
"HS2 is causing enormous stress and worry as it destroys the value of people’s homes and wrecks the plans that they have made for themselves. Government talk of generosity is a cynical misrepresentation of the reality that they don’t care."
Transport Minister Simon Burns said more than £48million had so far been spent buying 81 homes along the first phase of the route between London and Birmingham at their full un-blighted market value.
He added: "The scheme’s criteria is clear, but we are applying this in a flexible and compassionate way.
"However, the Exceptional Hardship Scheme is not designed to address the needs of property owners who are not facing exceptional hardship and it is not designed to support the normal operation of local property markets.
"Later this year we will be conducting a consultation on long-term compensation options and we encourage people to take part fully."
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