Ministers must reform law on compulsory land purchase if they are to deliver £466bn Infrastructure Plan, says CLA

09 June 2015

Government must bring compulsory purchase reform into legislation as a priority if it is serious about delivering its £466bn National Infrastructure Plan, the CLA is warning. 

The current land purchase system – used for the delivery of major infrastructure projects such as HS2, road schemes and other infrastructure – is inherently unfair to individual farmers and landowners and leads to extended periods of uncertainty, hardship negotiation and dispute. This can cause delays and costs in delivery of projects, a fact acknowledged by the Chancellor in March when he began consultation on reform.                                                        

Representing landowners, farmers and rural businesses, the CLA continues to lead the campaign for reform. It is making its call in a submission to the Treasury consultation which closes today (9 June), and the new Government must now decide how to take this consultation forward into law.

CLA President Henry Robinson said: “Now is the time to put in place compulsory purchase rules that are fit for the 21st century and that recognise the impact of these schemes on farmers, landowners and rural businesses. Currently these businesses face years of terrible uncertainty and bitter disputes, but much of this can be avoided by placing them at the centre of the decision making process rather than ancillary to that process.

“If this issue is not addressed, many of the major infrastructure projects can only be delivered in the timeframes set out in the National Infrastructure Plan by riding roughshod over individuals and small businesses, causing huge financial loss and unfathomable emotional stress.”

“The proposals set out in this consultation are a welcome step towards a clearer, fairer and faster process. Now it is up to the Government to act quickly and enact legislation so that companies like HS2 Ltd are obligated to treat individual landowners and farmers more fairly.”

The Government consultation proposes compulsory purchase reforms designed to ensure that all parties are better informed, that acquiring authorities take a more positive negotiating stance with landowners, pay proper compensation and enable advance payments to be claimed easier and earlier. It also proposes paying interest on unpaid compensation after entry, which has not been the case for many years, and a clear process to enable decisions to be made to a known timetable.