18 November 2014
The CLA has put forward a robust case to MPs calling for specific protections for rural landowners and businesses in a two-day evidence session held by MPs scrutinising HS2.
The Association, which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses, also rejected last minute assurances by HS2 Ltd given on the eve of their appearance at the Select Committee.
Andrew Shirley, CLA Chief Surveyor and expert witness said: “The compulsory purchase arrangements for HS2 are grossly unfair and create a David verses Goliath situation between the Government and individuals most affected by the scheme.
“I hope the Select Committee listens to the CLA and forces HS2 Ltd to introduce an enhanced complaints commissioner and also to pay for the land they want to acquire before they enter. These two small simple changes will make a tremendous difference to landowners and businesses affected by HS2.”
Northamptonshire farmer and CLA member Nigel Bellingham, called as a witness to the Select Committee said: “The reforms proposed by the CLA are essential to my business, which has been in my family for just under a century. Although we have been negotiating with HS2 Ltd to try to limit the damage the railway will do, their current plans provide no certainty to my business and may destroy it and leave me with little hope for the future.
“The Select Committee must listen to the CLA and ensure local businesses do not suffer unnecessarily because of HS2.”
CLA President Henry Robinson welcomed this important milestone in the Association’s long-running campaign to safeguard the rights of property owners affected by HS2.
He said: “We are pleased to have had the opportunity to set out in detail CLA members’ concerns to MPs. This is an important milestone and we will continue to make our case as the Bill progresses.”
Mr Robinson also dismissed the eleventh hour concessions offered by HS2 Ltd. These included the creation of an Agricultural Liaison Officer and a commitment to make prompt payments to landowners that have land permanently or temporarily affected by HS2.
He said: “These last minute concessions from HS2 Ltd in no way satisfy our concerns. We want a robust independent office that can adjudicate on disputes and require HS2 to act, not an Agricultural Liaison Officer that is no more than a customer service agent of HS2. Also, a loose reassurance from HS2 Ltd that they will pay compensation promptly is wholly inadequate.”