HS2 land grab plans reach end of the line

20 February 2017

Powers which allow HS2 Ltd to buy up land not related to the railway for lucrative development will be removed from the High Speed Rail Bill by the House of Commons today (20 February) ahead of the start of Phase 1 construction.

The House of Lords Select Committee strongly rejected attempts by ministers to allow HS2 Ltd to buy land through compulsory purchase to develop projects unrelated to the route and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling confirmed that wider powers of compulsory acquisition for development would not be included in the Bill.

This follows intense engagement by the CLA which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses to successfully secure a number of significant breakthroughs to benefit homeowners and businesses affected by the HS2 rail line from London to Birmingham.

CLA President Ross Murray said: “The attempt to use this Bill to give HS2 Ltd sweeping powers to compulsorily acquire land for lucrative developments completely unrelated to the railway amounted to an outrageous land grab. We resisted this strongly throughout the process and were delighted when members of the House of Lords agreed with us and the Government saw sense and backed down.

“It is now vital that HS2 Ltd steps up its commitment to farmers and landowners along the route to properly communicate its plan for the delivery of Phase 1 on time. We shall be watching very closely to hold HS2 Ltd to account if previous poor practice continues. To ensure fairness for anyone affected by the thousands of infrastructure schemes taking place now or in the future, we will continue to encourage all acquirers to follow best practice guidelines.”

Alongside limiting compulsory purchase powers solely to land acquisition directly related to the railway, the CLA successfully secured clarification on permanent purchase and temporary occupation.

Mr Murray said: “Throughout this process we have stood up for land and property owners over how the fundamental principles of fairness are applied to compulsory purchase rules. We are delighted with the breakthroughs we have secured for all those affected by the HS2 project.”