5 April 1996

CLA campaign for

acquisitions agency

to deal with CPOs

By Tony McDougal

CALLS for the establishment of an acquisitions agency to deal with compulsory purchase cases have been made by the Country Landowners Association.

It claims the current compensation law for farmers and landowners affected by compulsory acquisition is unfair, inadequate, expensive and cumbersome.

Andrew Pym, CLA rural practice surveyor, said: "If property owners were criminals they would be better treated than those who are the victims of the current compulsory purchase process.

"This is not about landowners holding private companies or public bodies to ransom. This is about getting a fair deal for thousands of people who lose out and suffer stress because their properties are under a CPO," said Mr Pym.

"At present, the law is a mishmash of conflict with little fairness or uniformity. What we want to do is get government approval for a system that is fairer, faster and more cost effective."

The main issues that have been accepted by the CLA, MPs and others include:

&#8226 Compulsory powers only being used where negotiations for the land or rights have failed over a project which is for public benefit.

&#8226 The setting up of an acquisitions agency to authorise any compulsory acquisition and to operate within a common framework.

&#8226 The establishment of a process requiring the land to be identified, negotiating for the land, seeking a draft order from the acquisitions agency only if the landowner is unreasonable.

A conference in London heard several case studies from all over the country, including a woman with a 12ha (30-acre) farm in Kent, who cannot get enough compensation from Union Railways on the basis of the present rules to enable her to continue in business after her farm is taken and the bungalow and buildings demolished.

Paul Powis, a chartered surveyor with Powis Hughes and Associations, said: "This is a very common problem. It is not because Union Railways do not recognise the problem. It is because under the present rules they cannot. Yet they have to purchase her farm, to enable the new line to go ahead, and leave her worse off." &#42