Following recent government information, it’s now know that the proposed High Speed Two (HS2) scheme will now go ahead. There are always winners and losers with compulsory acquisition; those who will obtain benefit from the eventual use of the new railway, but those who are losing land, or their homes.
There are also those who live in close proximity to the scheme, but who will not be losing their home or land, but who may be trapped; unable to deal freely with their property due to the scheme.
Our current compensation provision has evolved over many years from the Inclosure Acts in the seventeenth century, and later with the building of our canal network and then the first railways.
By the nineteenth century, there were so many schemes and Acts of Parliament that there was a need to consolidate the compulsory purchase and compensation provision. To this end, the Land Clauses Consolidation Act 1845 was passed. This merely standardised the way compulsory acquisition was dealt with. This Act is still made mention to in our present compensation provision. It is fair to say our compensation provision has developed piecemeal, and is a tangled mass of legislation and case law.
Is our resultant compulsory purchase system fair in today’s modern society? I suggest that the needs of the state will outweigh the needs of the private individual. With the roll out of schemes such as HS2, then our statutory provision only caters for the impact of schemes in part. The statutory provision does not cater adequately for the lead-in time for such large schemes like this. Property owners can, through no fault of their own, end up being trapped, unable to sell their property at anything but a reduced price.
HS2 has gone some way to addressing this, through a suite of property schemes. For example, there is the Need to Sell scheme, along with the Voluntary Purchase Scheme, which operate before HS2 Ltd have the ability to compulsorily acquire land.
When HS2 Ltd have the power to compulsorily acquire land, or temporarily possess land, then there is statutory provision in place to deal with this. Likewise, they have offered alternative dispute resolution provisions, which will no doubt assist some, where there may be differences of opinion as to what is included within a claim or the amount of compensation. Ultimately, there is recourse to tribunal in respect to compensation disputes.
Written by senior lecturer Elizabeth Farrall from the Land Farm and Agribusiness Management Department