Farmers and landowners whose businesses are affected by infrastructure projects such as HS2 will be compensated sooner as part of a reform of the compulsory purchase system.
Under the new rules, local authorities and infrastructure companies may also have to pay penal rates of interest if they fail to settle claims for advance compensation in a timely manner. This will be in addition to paying interest on outstanding claims for land which is compulsorily acquired.
CLA chief surveyor Andrew Shirley welcomed the reforms as a ‘step forward’.
He said: “The Government has agreed with us that on principle when an authority compulsorily buys land they must pay upfront for taking possession and today they have confirmed that they will face a penalty if they don’t.”
However the CLA, along with the NFU, said setting the interest rate for late payments at 2 per cent had fallen short of the 4 per cent requested by the organisations.
The current rate is 0.5 per cent.
NFU head of policy services Andrea Graham said she welcomed a standardised claim form for both compensation claims and advanced payments, which would provide greater consistency and streamline the process of negotiating and settling compensation claims.
She added: “The consultation has decided to extend the time period allowed to implement a compulsory purchase order in the event of a legal challenge, essentially ‘stopping the clock’ for a maximum period of one year. This is something the NFU supported and believe is essential as it will allow landowners some certainty going forward.
“However, the NFU remains concerned that government will extend powers of entry to all enquiring authorities and the notice periods will only be 14 days.”
The NFU had asked for 28 days and recommended that a consideration payment should be made for this access as well as compensation for crop loss.
“We’ve already seen how the number of surveys associated with major infrastructure projects such as HS2 can be significant and disruptive to day to day farm business activity, even on a single holding,” said Ms Graham, adding the union would continue to push for this reform.