HS2

19.12.16

Lords urge HS2 to offer ‘fair compensation’ to Camden residents

Camden residents should receive more compensation because of the scale of disruption caused by HS2, the House of Lords committee for the HS2 Bill recommended in its final report.

The committee’s principal suggestion was that households in Camden which are so exposed to noise that they are entitled to noise insulation should be treated in the same way as households within 120 metres of the route in an area where the Rural Support Zone (RSZ) applies.

These households would then be eligible for the non-statutory Voluntary Purchase Scheme, in addition to the statutory compensation that already covers them.

The committee argued that the statutory scheme “does not at present strike a fair balance between town and country residents” because it was based on the assumption that construction noise did not constitute a permanent problem for quality of life and house prices.

However, it concluded that this idea was incorrect because of the unprecedented scale of the noise, which will exceed 90 decibels and be part of works lasting until 2033.

The committee argued that the statutory scheme fell short of fulfilling residents’ rights to peaceful enjoyment of possessions and respect for private life and home, which are enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights and incorporated into UK law under the Human Rights Act 1998.

It also suggested expanding the same principals to households in Hillingdon and Birmingham if they are also found to be eligible for noise insulation.

The peers estimated that the additional cost to HS2 could be between £231.5m and £351.5m, depending on the value of the houses affected. The committee admitted it did not know whether it has the power to direct the transport secretary to make this change to the scheme, since non-statutory legislation is excluded from the HS2 Bill, and that it would not exercise such a power. However, it made “a strong recommendation” to HS2 to enhance the compensation package.

Cllr Sarah Hayward, leader of Camden Council, said: “The House of Lords backed Camden’s campaign for fair compensation, telling HS2 Ltd in no uncertain terms that they can no longer ignore the human rights of thousands of Camden residents and should properly compensate them for the decades of disruption that they face.

“We’ve won the moral battle and the ball is now in HS2 Ltd’s court to pay up to residents who will endure years of noise, dust and disturbance.”

Cllr Hayward has previously accused HS2 of ignoring appeals from Camden regarding key concerns such as realigning the Hampstead Road Bridge.

The Lords committee also endorsed local residents’ concern that Euston station is being rebuilt to accommodate HS2 while work on the eastern part of the station, which will remain under the control of Network Rail, is deferred.

“The new station, which will eventually emerge after so much expenditure of public funds and so much misery endured by Camden residents, ought to be a world-class railway station, and the splitting of its design into two different operations seems unlikely to assist in the achievement of that objective,” the report argued.

However, the committee said it did not feel able to instruct HS2 and Network Rail to make changes, and rejected the idea that Camden Council should defer approval of plans for the HS2 side until plans for the other side had been developed.

It rejected the alternative Euston Express scheme, which supporters say would save £3.7bn and reduce construction time from 19 to nine years, on the grounds that it would require a new Additional Provision. Lord Tony Berkeley, chair of the Rail Freight Group and a supporter of Euston Express, denied that it would need an Additional Provision.

He called the report “a disaster for Camden residents” which “demonstrated the interest on the committee on fair compensation but in little else”.

Lord Berkeley accused HS2 of frightening the committee away from changes which would require the Bill to be sent back to the House of Commons with “bullying behaviour”.

A recent Public Accounts Committee report warned that HS2 is in danger of exceeding its £55bn budget and delaying its phase 1 opening by a year. HS2 declined to comment when approached by RTM.

3pm UPDATE

Andrew Jones, the transport minister, said the DfT would "consider carefully the recommendations in the report and respond shortly".

“This report marks another significant step towards getting spades in the ground for this transformational project", he added.

(Image c. HS2)

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Comments

Graham Nalty   20/12/2016 at 14:39

Surely it would be better to adopt the Euston Express scheme for Euston which appears to be far superior. But it would be even better to dismiss the idea of a terminus station and build a through station which could not only cost less, but could also extend the benefits of HS2 far beyond the buffer stops of the terminus station.

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