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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 Geoffrey Rippon Mr Geoffrey Rippon , Hexham 12:00 am, 27th November 1972

I believe that it is clear and I will deal with this. The provision deals with new roads and improvements to existing roads.

In the planning of highways the Committee also recommends that evaluation should go beyond the mere economics of the scheme and should attempt to form some idea of the true cost of its likely effect on the urban environment. It is that new philosophy which the Government accept with enthusiasm. The principles of this new deal are set out in paragraph 7 of the White Paper which says: Eight principles underlie the Government's proposals:

  1. (i) Harmful impact on the immediate surroundings must be alleviated by comprehensive planning and remedial measures.
  2. (ii) Noisy and unattractive public developments must, by better planning, be separated from people and their homes.
  3. (iii) Damage to visual amenity by large-scale public works must be minimised by good pleasing design.
  4. (iv) Noise, smell and other forms of pollution must be reduced to a minimum at source—if it is practicable, eliminated.
  5. (v) Where, in spite of these efforts, damage still is done to individual amenities, reasonable compensation must be provided for those who suffer noise and other harmful effects.
  6. (vi) The processes of inquiry and decision on projects, compulsory purchase and payment of compensation must be thorough but concentrated in time and must be conducted so as to minimise blight and the hardship this entails.
  7. (viii) No time must be lost in carrying through the new approach to design and planning, to remedial works and sound insulation, to acquisition and compensation.
  8. (viii) People threatened by, or suffering from, the effects of public works must be told, in an understandable way, their rights and the help which is available to them.
Those principles present a logical sequence. Even if we do all the physical things which the Committee has recommended there could and would still be hard cases. One cause of hardship has been the absence of a statutory right to compensation where land and property are depreciated in value by public schemes although no part of them is taken by the scheme. This gap is closed by the provisions of the Bill.

All this may mean more work for those who plan roads, and more initial expense. But I believe that it will also have the beneficial effect of speeding up the administration of development projects. There will, I believe, be less incentive for those affected to obstruct good public schemes by using every legal means at their command. I am sure that hon. Members on both sides have had constituency cases which have really turned more on representations about fear of inadequate compensation than upon the particular merits of the scheme concerned.

I remember spending some 30 days at a public inquiry into the extension of Gatwick Airport. In that case, if the provisions of the Bill had been in operation, dealing with protection against noise and loss of amenity and provisions for compensation the process would have been very much simpler. It was hard to tell the owner of a transport cafe that there was no need to pay him compensation because his café was not being taken and that all that was happening was that the road past it was being diverted so that he would have no customers. That is a gap in our law which it is high time we closed.