Compensation scheme widened for high-speed rail link

Farmers on the route planned for a high-speed rail link between Birmingham and London may be eligible to receive compensation under an Exceptional Hardship Scheme (EHS).

The previous government launched a consultation on an EHS – an initiative designed to help people selling property on the route while the plans are being discussed – but had said it would apply to houseowners only.

However, secretary of state for Transport Phil Hammond announced on Monday (27 July) that “the scheme will be widened to include owner occupiers of agricultural units”.

NFU planning adviser Ivan Moss said the union had lobbied hard to makes sure that farmers were not excluded.

“Farmers more than any other group will be affected by the proposed route of High Speed Two,” he said.

“That’s why we are delighted with the announcement by the Secretary of State that farmers will be covered by the provisions of the EHS. It was a travesty that they were excluded in the original draft proposals in the first place.

“The NFU also believes the announcement that the government will look at the longer-term arrangements to assist those who would be most seriously affected by a new line is a sensible one.”

EHS will be formally launched on 20 August 2010.

Property owners who urgently need to move, and are unable to sell after three months on the open market due to the impact of the proposed high-speed rail link, will be able to make an application under this scheme.

If successful, the Secretary of State for Transport will then buy the property from them for a price that ignores the presence of the proposed HS2 rail link.

EHS will remain in place until after the public consultation, due to take place earlier next year, when the secretary of state will make a final decision as to whether to build the line, and if so on what route.