Hidden in the HS2 bill: a government power grab?

By Politics.co.uk staff

Campaigners lost their latest legal battle against HS2 today, amid controversy over the wording of the legislation.

Lawyers say sweeping new compulsory purchase powers contained in the bill would allow the government to force the sale of land which becomes economically viable as a result of the HS2 project.

Clause 47 allows for compulsory purchase orders if the government "considers that the construction or operation of phase one of High Speed 2 gives rise to the opportunity for regeneration or development of any land".

Campaigners and hybrid bill legal experts warned the broad wording of the legislation was almost unprecedented.

Campaigners are afraid that the legislation may worry people about the legal status of their property and trigger a decline in its value.

Residents in Primose Hill, home of Ed Miliband and a host of celebrities, including Mary Portas, the government's high streets tsar, are increasingly concerned that many of their properties, or at least their cellars, could be subject to compulsory purchase orders.

The area is on the route of a proposed tunnel and engineers may need to replace Victorian sewers underneath their homes.

Those affected by HS2 are entitled to petition a special select committee as part of the scrutiny process.

However, opponents have already had most of their case thrown out by the lower courts.

Today, the Supreme Court ruled European environmental law had been properly applied in the consultation, unanimously rejecting the claims against the scheme.