A major increase in compensation to householders affected by the planned high speed rail line has been approved by ministers as they prepare for a showdown with rebel MPs.
Legislation allowing ministers to authorise construction of the proposed HS2 scheme from London Euston to Birmingham’s planned new Curzon Street station will come to the Commons for its Second Reading on April 28.
But it is to be opposed by MPs including former party whip and current Tory vice-chairman Michael Fabricant (Con, Lichfield), who has tabled a motion demanding that the whole scheme is suspended until the Government draws up a new route which causes less damage to the environment.
It will be up to the Speaker, John Bercow, to decide whether the motion is selected for debate and a vote. Former Cabinet Minister Cheryl Gillan has tabled a separate motion which would also block the scheme.
Meanwhile, the Government has announced a new compensation package for properties affected by HS2.
An “Express Purchase scheme” is being launched for owner-occupiers of properties closest to the line, generally within 60 metres of it. The Government will offer to buy properties at the full unblighted market value plus an extra ten per cent (up to £47,000) and reasonable moving expenses, including stamp duty.
Alternatively, residents will be offered the option of selling their home but then renting it back, allowing them to continue living where they are.
And there will be a new compensation package for owner-occupiers living between 120 metres and 300 metres from the line in rural areas, with sums of between £7,500 and £22,500 on offer.
Many of the changes will require a further period of formal consultation before they come into effect.
The Department for Transport said the cost of increased compensation would be met from the existing contingency budget of £5.7 billion.
Mr Fabricant said he was hoping to win cross-party support in his bid to defeat the High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Bill.
He said: “I have taken the unusual step of tabling an amendment to the Second Reading which, if passed, would defeat the Bill.
“I hope it might attract Labour as well as Conservative votes if it is chosen to be voted on by the Speaker. In any event, it points out clearly in House of Commons papers the arguments against the Bill.”