HS2 Mitigation and Compensation
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.
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.
15th July 2014: I 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.
9th September 2014: In a debate in the Commons Chamber, I took the opportunity to urge the Government to compensate landowners properly, whose land would be compulsorily purchased under some changes to the HS2 requirements. See side panel.
16th September 2014: I again met with MPs on the HS2 Select Committee who came to see for themselves the likely impact of HS2 on the Borough. As mentioned, the MPs on the select committee will hear the petitions submitted by those affected by the proposed high speed rail line from London to the West Midlands in preparation for the petitioning process.
Whilst in the area, they put in stops to talk to local residents at some of the key points along the line of route. They were able to see what local people are concerned about.
Arriving by train into Birmingham International, they went across to the airport to hear how the new line will better connect the airport, but, how it needs to optimise the shuttle from the new interchange station to the terminals. The next stop was the NEC, via the roadworks to improve traffic flow at junction 6 on the M42. The construction of the leisure complex by Genting has been achieved, while maintaining business as usual at the NEC who want the same guarantee during the HS2 construction works. From there, the party followed the A452 to Berkswell Station, where a group of local residents showed them how visually intrusive the HS3 flyover would be at this point, and why a tunnel is so desperately needed.
From here the MPs were taken via Berkwell village itself through Meriden to Hampton-in- Arden, where the Parish Council Chairman and residents showed them the impact on Patricks Farm and the need for a more suitable viaduct over the flood plain of the river Blythe.
From there along, they proceeded along Diddington lane which is disputed for closure and past the Island project, a special school for autistic children, which would be hemmed in on all sides by construction and needs to be relocated. There were two more stops on farmland needed for the interchange station by Park Farm and Melbicks Nursery. Finally, the select committee went to see the mitigation of the route at Chelmsley wood where efforts by myself, and the Council, got the route moved further away from the estate and has left the Bluebell recreation ground intact. The Committee also heard from council officials, the plans to link the estate to the new transport infrastructure and designate Chelmsley Wood into a garden city, including shops, services and houses in the link as long as the threat of installing marshalling yards can be seen off.
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.