England

HS2 compensation: Government spends £43m on 72 properties

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Media captionHomeowner Ian Higgins said the HS2 compensation process set people "up to fail"

More than £43m has been spent by the government buying 72 properties along the route of the HS2 line between London and the West Midlands, the BBC has learned.

Figures obtained by BBC Midlands Today also show that out of 428 claims only 103 have been successful.

People who are 'significantly adversely affected' and are in 'close proximity' to the new line can apply.

HS2 Ltd said it does not consider the number successful applicants to be low.

"The level of evidence required for this taxpayer-funded scheme is high, which is right and proper," a spokesman said.

Ian Higgins, who moved from a farm near Sutton Coldfield that was only yards from the proposed line, said claiming through the government's Exceptional Hardship Scheme (EHS) took two years and four separate applications.

Independent panel

"I think the scheme definitely sets you up to fail. There's not enough information, they throw very small, petty things back at you that are almost insignificant.

"You just don't know how you are going to move on. You don't know what your plans are for the future - it's just a terrible position to be in," he said.

HS2 Ltd said it does not believe the application process to be complicated with applicants being asked to satisfy five "clearly defined" eligibility criteria.

"The average time for the whole process from start to a decision is under seven weeks - we believe this is reasonable," a spokesman said.

The EHS is a government scheme to compensate residential owner-occupiers, small business owners with a rateable value of £34,800 or less, and owner-occupier farmers.

To qualify the property or business must be on or in close proximity to the route and "likely to be substantially affected by construction or operation of HS2".

An independent panel decide on whether applications are successful. There is no appeal mechanism, but a re-application can be made.

Compensation is determined by two independent valuers.

The government's figures up to the start of February show that 72 properties, some of which are large and in expensive parts of the region, had been bought for a total of £43,295,824.

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