11 December 2012
Leigh Day will be representing HS2 Action Alliance (HS2AA) in their second Judicial Review at the High Court on Wednesday 12th December against the planned controversial, high-speed rail link HS2.
This latest judicial review of the Government’s plans concerns the compensation for those living near the proposed line. Thousands of people who live in communities affected by HS2 will be impacted by property blight, unable to sell their properties or only at a large loss.
Campaigners claim this uncertainty is causing financial worry and stress to ordinary people who through no fault of their own find themselves living near to the route of HS2. The legal challenge claims that inadequate information was provided during the consultation, preventing the public from being able to give a meaningful response.
HS2AA allege the decision, which followed the consultation, was therefore without proper justification, ignored the Government’s own criteria and relied on new undisclosed material. HS2AA also point to the Government’s promises of a fair deal for those suffering losses due to the project.
Philip Hammond, the then secretary of State for Transport said:
“Where a project that is in the national interest imposes significant financial loss on individuals, I believe it is right and proper that they should be compensated fairly for that loss”.
Just two days before the Judicial Review starts the Department of Transport has refused an HS2AA Freedom of Information Act request for data on the cost and extent of property blight that the planned line will cause.
This is despite the Department confirming that they have such information. HS2AA’s own research shows that the extent of property blight stretches far wider, and affects far more properties, than the 2,500 households likely to be eligible for compensation under the current proposals for the next 15-20 years.
Richard Stein from the Human Rights team at Leigh Day & Co who is representing HS2AA said:
"This is not a NIMBY argument. The consequence of the government’s compensation scheme is that many thousands of people living along the route will not be able to sell their homes for some fifteen years because their homes are blighted. If it is decided that it is the national interest to have HS2, which our clients don’t accept, at least they should not have to bear the burden for this national project.
"Proper arrangements must be put in place if HS2 is to go ahead to make it possible for these people to move if and when they wish in the same way that the rest of us can. The cost of a scheme, which would make this possible, must be included as a part of the cost of HS2. The process by which the government has adopted its proposed compensation scheme has been unfair and shambolic. We hope that the court will quash it and tell the government to think again” he added.
Hilary Wharf, Director, HS2AA, said: “172,000 properties are within one kilometre of the proposed line. 43,000 of these were contacted by the DfT about the latest compensation consultation but less than 2000 fit within the terms on offer, with everyone else left to apply under a long term hardship based scheme which on current figures is likely to result in barely another 600 qualifying.
“With such huge blight going unaddressed we are not surprised that the DfT does not want the truth to be made public. If the Government cannot afford to compensate all those that are losing money because of the line they cannot afford HS2” she added.
Jaqi Curruthers, a resident of South Heath, Buckinghamshire, commenting on the impact of HS2, said:
“We’ve lived here for 11 years and have three children in local schools. My partner has built a business in Essex over the last five years and we were hoping to move to be closer to his work. But as our house is 250 metres from the proposed line we are not entitled to any compensation and we are left with a big mortgage on a house that is effectively worthless.
“Philip Hammond said that no one should be out of pocket as a result of HS2. Well we are, and our life is on hold for the next 20 plus years. The Government is making it pretty clear that they simply don’t care about us, or any of the other 1000s of hard working families that have had their lives destroyed by HS2” she added.
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