Since the very first announcement about a possible high speed line from London to Birmingham, I have worked hard to attain the best possible compensation and mitigation measures. I recently joined the HS2 Select Committee on their visit to Solihull, to walk the proposed HS2 route and meet with local residents. The site visit was an important chance to point out how we are affected, to the Select Committee members who will hear our local petitions. This time they concentrated on the spur to Birmingham and the way it affects Castle Bromwich, but next time they will examine the section south of Birmingham International.
We all know that the Meriden constituency is no stranger to large-scale planning applications. I appreciate the anxiety caused by proposals like the Motorway Service Area, a second runway at Birmingham Airport and most recently HS2. Whilst there is some benefit that the proposed site for the first stopping point on the route will be in this constituency, there will also be significant costs to many individuals; we get both the pain and the gain of HS2. People are understandably nervous about the amount of noise pollution, the loss of green space and the impact on property values.
I have always been consistent in my attempts to ameliorate the possible negative impacts of HS2, by striving to ensure that fair and generous compensation is available for affected people, and that the environmental consequences are mitigated as far as possible.
Last year, I introduced a bill in the House of Commons to reform Property Blight laws. The Ten Minute Rule Bill sought to incorporate the use of noise contours rather than straight meterage when determining levels of compensation for properties blighted by public infrastructure projects such as HS2. It called on the Government to use a more accurate measure for blight. I also put forward a Private Members’ Bill which sought to improve the compensation structures for blight.
I also put forward several amendments to the HS2 Paving Bill at the end of last year. I tabled an amendment to ensure that any loss of green space is offset to make sure there is no net loss of biodiversity. This was endorsed by the Woodland Trust and the CLA. I also put forward amendments to improve compensation, including one to enshrine a property bond in statute, and I backed calls by the CLA for payment to be made promptly and with interest if it is late. I also added my name to a Government amendment to cap expenditure on the project at £50bn.
I continue to support many local residents in their applications to the Exceptional Hardship Scheme. If you are thinking of applying please do contact me, so that I can provide assistance where possible.