Landowners have welcomed the strong rejection by Peers of attempts by Ministers to allow HS2 Ltd to buy land through compulsory purchase to develop projects which are unrelated to the construction of the railway line.
The rejection was made in the report by the House of Lords Select Committee on the High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Bill published today (15 December).
CLA President Ross Murray: “The attempt to use this Bill to give HS2 Ltd sweeping powers to compulsorily acquire land for lucrative developments completely unrelated to the railway is an outrageous land grab. We have resisted this strongly throughout the process and are delighted that Members of the House of Lords agree with us.
“We will now keep the pressure on Government to accept these recommendations and ensure they are carried through the remainder of the parliamentary process for the benefit of anyone who owns land and property.”
The Committee Report follows a period of formal legal petitions. The CLA petition has led to important recommendations on:
- Clause 48 (wider powers of compulsory acquisition for development) - the Committee asked for this power to be removed and for HS2 Ltd compulsory acquisition powers to be limited solely to land acquisition directly related to the railway.
- Permanent Purchase v Temporary Occupation - the Committee accepted the CLA’s arguments about the unfair burdens of uncertainty imposed on landowners resulting from lack of clarity over whether land would be taken permanently or temporarily. It recommends the duty to offer back surplus land should not be subject to the economic test that could have been used to enrich HS2 Ltd.
- Duty of Care – the Committee was critical of HS2 Ltd for the poor communication and treatment of landowners to date and called for improved performance.
Mr Murray said: “Throughout this process we have been keen to stand up for the fundamental principles of fairness in how compulsory purchase rules are applied. The achievements we make on HS2 have benefits for everyone affected by the thousands of infrastructure schemes taking place now or in the future.”
The HS2 Bill has now completed it formal petition stage. The report produced will be formally responded to by the Government early in the New Year. The Bill will then receive further debate in the House of Lords before becoming law in the Spring. Construction for HS2 Phase One is likely to commence in 2017.