HS2 LAND AC­QUI­SI­TION COST HAS TRE­BLED IN SIX YEARS

Bosses say rise is ‘nor­mal for a pro­gramme of this scale’

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - by THOMAS DEAN thomas.dean@trinitymirror.com Twit­ter: @tomben­dean

HS2 has re­sponded to re­ports that found the cost es­ti­mate for land ac­qui­si­tion has al­most tre­bled by say­ing that the re­port also shows that the in­crease is “nor­mal”.

The re­port pub­lished by the Na­tional Au­dit Of­fice (NAO) re­vealed that: “In 2012, HS2 Ltd es­ti­mated that the ac­qui­si­tion pro­gramme would cost £1.12 bil­lion (2011 prices). HS2 Ltd pro­vided cost es­ti­mates to Par­lia­ment as re­quired and by the time the hy­brid bill for Phase One was sent to Par­lia­ment in 2013 this es­ti­mate had in­creased to £1.6bn (2011 prices). The most re­cent es­ti­mate in 2017 was £3.3bn.”

HS2 says that the NAO re­port shows the ac­qui­si­tion pro­gramme re­mains on track and that it also high­lights the in­crease in cost is nor­mal for a pro­gramme of this scale and com­plex­ity.

An HS2 spokesper­son said: “We wel­come the NAO re­port which shows that HS2’s land ac­qui­si­tion pro­gramme re­mains on track. The over­all cost of the land ac­qui­si­tion pro­gramme re­flects changes to scope, land value and par­lia­men­tary amend­ments. Much of this is as re­sult of pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion.

“The NAO high­light that this is nor­mal for a pro­gramme of HS2’s scale and com­plex­ity.

“HS2 Ltd wants to en­sure all pay­ments to those af­fected are timely as well as be­ing fair to them and to the tax­payer. The ma­jor­ity of those who ap­ply for early pay­ments re­ceive them and we are work­ing to en­sure that this ap­plies to all cases where we have enough in­for­ma­tion to as­sess the pay­ment.”

Dame Ch­eryl Gil­lan, MP for Che­sham and Amer­sham, has hit out at HS2 for its “poor man­age­ment, poor cor­po­rate gov­er­nance and fail­ures to com­mu­ni­cate” and hopes that plans will ”hit the buf­fers”.

“This project has been one of poor man­age­ment, poor cor­po­rate gov­er­nance and fail­ures to com­mu­ni­cate,” she said, point­ing out the trou­ble caused by the mis­man­age­ment of the Roberts Lane clo­sure, in Chal­font St Peter, and the de­lays to the link road con­struc­tion.

“It took more than a month from the last known com­ple­tion date for the link road to tell res­i­dents that it had been de­layed an­other six months,” the MP said.

“I hope HS2 will hit the buf­fers,” she added, cit­ing the cases of con­stituents who have “had to fight tooth and nail for com­pen­sa­tion to get the value of their prop­er­ties, and in fact are los­ing out over­all be­cause it will be HS2 that cap­i­talises on their prop­er­ties.

“They have lost their homes and, in some cases, their liveli­hoods.”

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