Farmers and landowners in the path of HS2 have been dealt another blow after new compensation schemes were branded incomplete and unfair.
The three schemes will extend the claim area for the London to Birmingham HS2 train line for homeowners and businesses alongside the planned route in phase one constructions.
However, the NFU hit out at the plans, saying they fell short of a “full and fair compensation package” for farm businesses and stood to benefit homeowners more.
NFU rural surveyor Louise Staples said: “It is very difficult under the current [compulsory purchase] code for agricultural owner-occupiers to be compensated fully for the land they will lose to the scheme and for the disturbance that is caused during construction.
“HS2 must still be aware of practical farming issues so that farms are still viable once the scheme is completed.
The measure will add to the pain of farm businesses who heard earlier this week that HS2 would not be paying any interest on late compensation payments.
James Del Mar, who leads the HS2 team representing landowners at Knight Frank, said the new schemes would “confuse and complicate” matters.
Even before the new measures, he said he had counted more than 22 methods of compensation for compulsory purchase.
A further key area of weakness from a farmer’s perspective, was the lack of an independent valuer in negotiations, said Mr Del Mar.
When it came down to negotiating the final compensation fee, it would be hammered out between the landowner or their agent and HS2 – with no independent person to intervene.
There was also an urgent need for compensation to be speeded up, particularly because of the long-term nature of the HS2 construction, he said.
When the M25 was built, it took 20-25 years to pay off the last claimant owed compensation, he said.
The three new compensation packages are:
- Voluntary Purchase Scheme. Owner-occupiers of homes and small businesses between 60m and 120m from the line can apply for HS2 to buy their property at the value that it would have if the HS2 plans did not exist.
- Alternative to the Voluntary Purchase Scheme. If an eligible property owner wishes to stay in their home/business premises, they can receive 10% of its value. The minimum for this is £30,000 and the maximum is £100,000. To be eligible you will have to be an owner-occupier of a residential property, agricultural holding or a commercial property with a rateable value that does not exceed £34,800. A leaseholder with an unexpired term of three years will usually qualify as an owner-occupier.
- Homeowner Payment Scheme. Those beyond the 120m boundary but within 300m from the line can receive a fixed lump, payable when the HS2 Bill receives Royal Assent.
- Between 120m and 180m from the route: £22,500
- Between 180m and 240m from the route: £15,000
- Between 240m and 300m from the route: £7,500
Construction for phase one of HS2 is due to start in early 2017.