HS2: Government climb down on compulsory land purchases

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The Government has backed down and confirmed that HS2 Ltd is not allowed to buy land through compulsory purchase to develop projects unrelated to the construction of the rail line.

Transport Minister Chris Grayling delivered his response to the recommendations made by the Lords Select Committee report on the High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Bill today. A

Country Local Business Association President Ross Murray said: “We are delighted the Government has seen sense over giving HS2 Ltd the ability to compulsorily acquire land for lucrative developments completely unrelated to the railway which would have been an outrageous land grab.

“Throughout this process we have stood up for land and property owners over how the fundamental principles of fairness are applied to compulsory purchase rules. The decision by the Government to withdraw these sweeping powers is a victory for all those affected by the scheme.”

The Department for Transport response follows the Lords report after a period of formal legal petitions to the Lords Committee. Alongside limiting compulsory purchase powers solely to land acquisition directly related to the railway, the CLA petition has also been successful in securing clarification on permanent purchase and temporary occupation.

However, the Duty of Care proposed by the CLA has not been addressed by the Government response even though the House of Lords report was very critical of HS2 Ltd’s engagement with farmers and landowners.

Mr Murray added: “This was an ideal opportunity to acknowledge HS2’s poor practice and introduce a Duty of Care to ensure this is no longer a feature of the project. We will keep up the pressure on the Government to accept this recommendation for the benefit of anyone affected by the thousands of infrastructure schemes taking place now or in the future.”

The HS2 Bill will receive further debate in the House of Lords before becoming law this Spring. Construction for HS2 Phase One is likely to commence later this year.