Transport Secretary Justine Greening has confirmed that the new high speed railway network will be built. Her statement can be seen on the Transport Department website (link).
There are also two supporting documents which cover some of the property aspects of the decision, a Review of the Property Issues and an initial guide for property owners, Do you think you are affected by the HS2 Route.
Key points from both publications and the Secretary of State’s announcement:
- 36,036 representations during the consultation process were concerned wtih property impact (over 65% of the consultations received)
- 11,843 were concerned about the effects of noise
- Farming issues are mentioned and the documents say these will be dealt with on a case by case basis
- Various options put forward by HS2 to avoid property blight received a lukewarm response at best, although one of the more favoured approaches by banks and mortgage lenders was a bond-based purchase scheme.
- Detailed work on land referencing (ie ground and other surveys to determine who owns and occupies what) will start in Summer 2012, and HS2 is expected to appoint staff and agents soon to begin work on this
- HS2 should therefore be in a position to begin negotiations in Summer 2012
- Physical construction is expected to start in 2016 and the line is expected to open in 2026. Links to Manchester, Leeds and Heathrow are predicted for 2032-33.
- As a result of the consultation process, more of the line will be in tunnels or deeper cuttings and the route has been altered in the vicinity of Edgcote to avoid historic buildings. A new tunnel will be dug in the Ruislip/Northolt area (4.4 km), a continuous tunnel will run under the Chilterns and longer green tunnels will be created in the areas of Chippping Warden, Aston Le Wells, Wendover and South Heath.
- The cost of the project at 2011 present values is put at £32.7 Bn, but the benefits are estimated as £47 Bn plus £34 Bn fare income over a 60 year period.
Property owners and occupiers are promised:
- A streamlined purchase scheme
- A Sale and Rent Back scheme to give owners a greater choice over when to leave their property
- Streamlined procedures for small claims
- A refreshed hardship scheme
In particular, property owners above tunnels are promised:
- Before and after surveys of their property – so it makes sense to ensure that property is in good condition in preparation for the ‘before’ survey
- Compensation for subsoil purchase – although in a series of cases at the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) last year concerning bored tunnels for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link nominal compensation of £50 was awarded in each case. Scott and others v Secretary of State for Transport provides one example of many
- HS2 will take on permanent responsibility for subsidence due to their tunnels
Further detail is to follow on compensation aspects, over and above the minimum requirements of the statutory compensation code, including the Sale and Rent Back scheme and more information on Advance Payments.
For further information on today’s decision including various supporting documents, see the Department for Transport website section devoted to this (link): http://www.dft.gov.uk/publications?tag=hs2-decision.
The decision is still open to final legal challenges, and is still subject to final Parliamentary approval although few if any problems are anticipated with the latter.