71: The HS2 Committee wraps up for the summer following locus standi hearings
The HS2 Bill committee held its final session before breaking for the summer this week. They will next be meeting again on 1st September with a future programme of hearings due to be published shortly.
This side of the summer, the committee has dealt with the challenges to ‘locus standi’ (entitlement to be heard by the committee), with all but one of the challenges having their claim for the right to be heard refused by the committee. Significantly, the one petitioner whose claim to be heard was accepted is HS2 Action Alliance. There had been general uproar surrounding the Government’s decision to challenge the group’s locus standi with claims it was an attempt to ‘gag’ the group. However, when announcing the decisions in last week’s session, the committee stated that they did have locus standi, although would only be allowed to make representations on route wide issues.
Prior to the locus standi challenges the committee received a briefing on noise measurement and mitigation measures being proposed as well as a visit to the Arup sound laboratory in Euston.
A visit to Birmingham was also undertaken before the locus standi challenges hearings began, enabling the committee to visit the site of the proposed new station at Curzon Street and Washwood Heath, the site of the proposed rolling stock maintenance depot amongst other points of interest.
The final committee session (for now) on Tuesday dealt with the last of the locus standi challenges – in relation to the petition of Dr Eaglen. He claimed locus standi as a resident of Hounslow, West London, affected by the impact on local roads, an honorary member of a golf club in Aylesbury (located in the safeguarding zone) and because of a property interest he held in Doddershall Estate also in Aylesbury. The committee ruled that they did not believe Dr Eaglen to be specially affected by the Bill and were not convinced he had a separate locus standi due to his membership of the golf club which had submitted a separate petition.
A programming reshuffle saw the committee hear from Colin Smith of CBRE, on compensation matters. The committee had previously announced that they would receive a compensation briefing in September due to ‘administrative reasons’.
He provided the committee with an overview of statutory and discretionary payments that were being made available including statutory blight notices, exceptional hardship scheme, disturbance payments, voluntary purchase, need to sell, extended homeowner protection and alternative cash payments. He supported his comments with scenarios and touched upon the assessment criteria in each case.
Speaking about generalised blight he said there was very little a landowner could do during the construction phase to get compensation. He also mentioned that a dedicated team would be made available to support businesses needing to relocate as had been done during Crossrail and had noted that it worked well.
Members of the committee sought clarification as to whether members would have to make decisions regarding payment amounts but were told that this was a matter of negotiation between landowner and promoter.
The committee provided an indication of how the programming would flesh out back in June, and which we covered in our blog entry 64: Committee sets out detail of petition appearances and timetabling. It will be interesting to see whether the programme for September and subsequent scheduling follows this.
25 July 2014