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Orders of the Day — Land Compensation Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th November 1972.

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Photo of Mr Terry Davis Mr Terry Davis , Bromsgrove 12:00 am, 27th November 1972

With one major exception I agree entirely with the hon. Member for Birmingham, Hands-worth (Mr. Sydney Chapman). I should have thought that everybody inside and outside the House would welcome the Bill, because the present situation is totally unsatisfactory. This Bill is especially important for the West Midlands region because we have so many new developments in the area surrounding Birmingham. I sometimes think that all these new roads come to Birmingham, and far too many of them come through my constituency of Bromsgrove and Redditch.

I feel, however, that this Bill is only a step in the right direction. I urge the Government to go much further in other ways. I echo the pleas made by the hon. Member for Handsworth and my hon. Friends. One point on which I disagree with the hon. Member for Handsworth concerns the right of compensation for injurious affection. There is a very strong case for saying that there should be compensation for the visual effect of new roads.

Let me take one illustration from my constituency. A proposed route for the M42 motorway has been announced. According to this proposal, the motorway will run along a mile-long embankment near the village of Alvechurch, through the Green Belt and across a valley. Several people in houses with a view of the countryside will instead have a view of the motorway if this route is approved. It is no use saying that the motorway will be too far away for these people to be affected. It is true that they will not have much noise and they will not smell the fumes from the motorway, but they will be able to see the motorway, and it will be across the view because of which most people move into that area. These people bought their houses because they wanted to enjoy the country view, and this motorway will rob them of that view. If the motorway must be built across that valley they have some right, surely, to compensation for injurious affection.

Another illustration occurred in Bromsgrove two or three years ago when some large storage tanks were erected on British Rail property. It was impossible for the local planning authority to object because of the regulations concerning development on British Rail property. These large storage tanks dominated a residential road in the town. The people do not smell the contents of the storage tanks; there is no noise from the tanks, but the environment of that road has been totally transformed. Again, there is a case for saying that they have suffered an injury for which they should be compensated.