Andrew Shirley, chief surveyor, CLA
With Parliament reconvening next week after the summer recess, the CLA is preparing a major push in the campaign for fairer laws of compulsory purchase of land and property.
We have made a series of important breakthroughs in recent years, but there is still much to do and September promises a number of political opportunities which we will use to make the case for change.
Firstly, our HS2 fight continues.
We continue to argue for an overriding legal protection, a duty of care, for all those threatened with compulsory acquisition, and our campaign transfers to the Committee rooms of the House of Lords this autumn.
We will be countering HS2’s portrayal of the disruption felt by farmers and landowners throughout the route as a distant future threat which only begins when construction starts.
We will show peers our members have been suffering for five years already.
Elsewhere, we will be battling early stage Government proposals which could mean a significant increase in compulsory purchase of land for housing, at much lower values than fair open market rates. We have been meeting Ministers to underline the risks to the rural economy of such an infringement of landowners’ rights.
Further details on the proposals are expected in September through the introduction to Parliament of the Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill.
One specific issue is fairness in rates of compensation where payments are late. Unless HM Treasury acts this month, the interest payable on money owed to farmers will then fall to minus a quarter of 1 per cent.
This is an absurd prospect which cannot be allowed to happen. Instead, the Government should act to deliver on the penal interest rate on payment delays of 8 per cent which it agreed to deliver earlier this year but has still not implemented.
More than two years since reform was promised, compulsory purchase laws are still unfit for the 21st Century.
Our fight continues to ensure compulsory purchase is only ever used as a last resort and, where it takes place, the duty of care to property owners affected must be the overriding legal concern.