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Full details of new HS2 compensation deal announced

by Mike Pearse

The Government has announced a £600 million compensation scheme for homes and businesses affected by the new HS2 rail line that will pass through Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.

The Government insists it is one of the most generous packages of its kind. It has been revealed that 532 properties and businesses will be demolished. Residents have already reacted saying the plan is "an insult."

Those living within 60 metres of the line will get the full value of the property and 10 per cent on top - up to £47,000 maximum.

Those between 60-120 metres will be able to get the market rate of their properties or a cash payment of between £30,000 and £100,000 if they decide to stay put.

And for people living 120 and 300 metres from the route there will be compensation payments of between £7,500 and £22,500.

Our Transport Correspondent Mike Pearse has been gauging the public reaction to today's announcement.

Revised compensation for those living along HS2 route

The government have published a new and improved range of compensation schemes for those that could be affected by the proposed HS2 rail route.

Having listened to feedback and suggestions, measures for property owners and occupiers along the route have been examined and revised.

The Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said:

I completely understand the concerns and anxieties of those living near the line and it is only right that those people are properly looked after.

I believe this package of compensation and assistance will enable us to help people more. But I want to get it absolutely right, so I am asking for further views on some aspects before we finalise the plans.

HS2 will transform many people’s lives for the better, but where its impacts are less positive we will do all we can to provide the right help and assistance.

– Patrick McLoughlin, Transport Secretary

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Green groups backing safeguarding plans for HS2

Green groups are backing plans for better safeguards to minimise environmental impacts that could be caused by HS2.

It comes after the Environmental Audit Committee put forward a report saying that as much as possible needs to be done to lessen the damage on the countryside if HS2 goes ahead.

Ralph Smyth, the Campaign to Protect Rural England's senior transport campaigner said:

We have been calling for environmental funding to be ring-fenced in HS2's budget since 2011 and it's disappointing that the Government has been unwilling to take this forward. We are pleased that MP's are supporting our call. With Parliament set to vote on HS2 later this month, the Department for Transport will need to come up with an adequate response quickly if it wants to keep the project on track.

Many improvements to HS2's route and improvements to environmental protection, such as more tunnelling and putting transmission lines under ground to protect the landscape, and more noise barriers to protect rural tranquillity, have been refused by HS2 Ltd on the basis of their cost. But the company refused to answer CPRE's requests for information about costs, telling us it would be 'manifestly unreasonable' to respond. It is heartening that MP's have come to our aid by saying it should be up to Parliament, not HS2 Ltd, to say what is and isn't reasonable.

– Ralph Smyth, Campaign to Protect Rural England

Safeguards needed to protect countryside if HS2 is built

Better safeguards are needed if environmental impacts of the proposed HS2 rail route are to be minimised, according to the Environmental Audit Committee.

It wants Parliament, in its capacity as the planning authority, to ensure everything possible is done to lessen the damage on the countryside.

Chair of the Committe, Joan Walley MP said:

*The Government needs to show real commitment to dealing with the impact that HS2 will have on our countryside and wildlife. Ancient woodlands and other hard to replace sites of natural value should not be subordinated to crude economic calculations of cost and benefit. It is imperative that an infrastructure project on such a large scale implements proper environmental safeguards and ensures that impacts are minimised. This means adopting stringent, enforceable standards and setting aside adequate funding. *

– Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee Joan Walley, MP

The HS2 Hybrid Bill will be given its second reading on the 28th April, after which it will be referred to a dedicated select committee to examine 'petitions' against it.

HS2 fares need to be set 'at the right level'

There have been concerns that premium fares will be charged for those using the new high-speed line whose first phase, from London to Birmingham, is due to open in 2026.

Passengers travelling on domestic services using HS1, the 186mph Channel Tunnel fast link, pay much higher fares than those using "conventional" Kent commuter services.

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG) said "setting fares at the right level" was one of its five key priorities for HS2.

Legislation for the first phase is currently going through Parliament, with a second, Y-shaped, phase, taking the line to north west and north east England due to be completed around 2032/33.

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Aylesbury MP responds to HS2 consultation

Local MP David Lidington has submitted a 15,000 word response to the HS2 Environmental Statement consultation which closed last week. David response reflects his own views as well as those expressed to him by individual constituents, local action groups and Parish Councils.

David also held meetings with HS2 Ltd and the Secretary of State for Transport to discuss the Environmental Statement before submitting his response.

In his response David calls for:

  • Improved mitigation measures at Wendover Dean and Dunsmore to mitigate the impact of the proposed 18m high viaduct.
  • HS2 Ltd to urgently resolve the outstanding noise impact on St Mary’s Church in Wendover.
  • Increased tunnelling in the Chilterns AONB but with local agreement on the location of any tunnel portal north of Wendover.
  • Additional mitigation measures to ensure that the residents of Stoke Mandeville and the Hawkslade estate in Aylesbury do not experience any significant noise impact from HS2
  • The mitigation measures for Fairford Leys to be in keeping with the local area and have local support.

My response to the Environmental Statement consultation reflects my own views as well as those expressed to me by my constituents. I hope the Department for Transport and HS2 Ltd take note of the views expressed in responses to the consultation and commit to making changes to the design of scheme to reflect the views of those most affected by HS2."

– David Lidington, MP for Aylesbury

Farmers worried about losing land to HS2 rail route

by Mike Pearse

The construction of the High Speed 2 rail line will completely destroy the livelihoods of farmers, according to the union that represents them.

The National Farmers' Union says there are 23 farms along the proposed route in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire which would be seriously affected.

The government says farmers will be compensated - but landowners say the fields left behind would be un-useable. Our Transport Correspondent Mike Pearse reports.

New college will be created to train engineers for HS2

Plans for the creation of the High Speed Two (HS2) rail link between London and the north have stepped up a pace with the announcement of a new college to train engineers who will work on the project.

It will be the first new incorporated Further Education College to be created in over 20 years.

The college will deliver specialised training in the areas of rail engineering, environmental skills and construction. The skills learned will then be used in the construction of HS2 and other infrastructure projects across the country.

"HS2 is the biggest infrastructure project that this government is delivering. So it is right that a large scale investment in bricks and mortar should also come with investment in the elite skills which will help build it. That's why this government is launching the first further education college in over 20 years, which will train the next generation of engineers in rail, construction and environmental studies that this country needs to prosper."

– Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business
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