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HS2 compensation scheme should be reviewed, says Residents’ Commissioner

HS2 and the Department for Transport (DfT) should review the high-speed rail compensation scheme, the project’s Residents’ Commissioner has said in her latest report

In her latest study, Deborah Fazan added that the project is still failing to engage with communities. She also said that the DfT and HS2 ought to review its compensation scheme and consider more flexibility in its arrangements.

Fazan noted that acceptance rates for phase 2 compensation applications are lower than expected, at 42%. She adds that the number of residents not eligible for compensation could also increase due to a requirement for them to prove that they had ‘no prior knowledge’ of the scheme when they bought.

The DfT published its compensation package for residents affected by phase 2a of the project yesterday. However, Fazan said that there were some positive developments with the compensation scheme.

For example, the DfT has announced that residents are now allowed a choice of valuation panel for their application, instead of relying on the one provided by HS2; and that HS2 is now more closely monitoring the time taken to complete each application.

She also said that the company was improving its community engagement, following recent critical reports, but more needed to be done. The company has held 10 public meetings between February and April, recruited eight engagement managers and executives, and intends to re-establish community engagement forums.

However, Fazan said the engagement process still excluded some groups, such as residents who do not speak English as a first language and communities in rural areas, whom she suggests HS2 engage with using a mobile unit.

She also expressed concern that HS2 does not currently have a schedule of engagement meetings beyond April this year, and that its newsletter, which she has previously recommended as a means of engagement, is targeted towards community and business representatives instead of individual households and has not been updated since September 2015.

Residents in the phase 1 express purchase zone have served 151 blight notices on the government for the impact on their property, of which 144 have been accepted and seven are being assessed.

Residents in the rural support zone have made 82 applications for compensation, of which 69 have been accepted, three are being assessed and 10 have been rejected.

The need-to-sell scheme for residents who have been unable to sell their property because of HS2 has received 168 applications, of which 76 have been accepted, 20 are pending a decision, 20 have been withdrawn and 72 have been rejected.

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John Williams   27/05/2016 at 22:15

The real issue is that the HS2 does not have voters which matter to the Government , so it is happy for HS2 to act like some invading army walking over anyone it likes. The arrogance of HS2 beyond belief. If you contrast HS2 with the 3rd runway at Heathrow it is totally different. The case for Heathrow has been there for decades and Governments a avoid a decision it because they are scared of the voters near the airport. Endless excuses will be rolled out.

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