§ Mr. Mulley
My right hon. Friend announced on 1st July that the final decision on the route of this link would be deferred until the end of the year.
I have since discussed with the Railways Board and the local authorities how to avoid hardship to owners facing continuing uncertainty whether their property will be required. We have agreed on three lines of action to help them.
Firstly, although the date of a decision on the route has been deferred, it is clearly in everybody's interest to eliminate uncertainty as soon as possible on routes which will not be amongst those from which a final choice will be made. It is, therefore, the board's intention to make preliminary statements shortly eliminating certain route options which it will no longer be considering. This will be done section by section, and as consultations proceed it will make further similar announcements.
Secondly, once it has made such a statement on any section of the route the board will be prepared, where it appears to the board and to my Department that serious hardship would otherwise occur, to purchase properties which would be required if any of the routes still under consideration in that section were ultimately to be chosen.
Our third proposal will help people along the line which is eventually chosen. Once the details of this route have been published in the proposed Private Bill, the board will be prepared to purchase, on request, property which will be needed if the Bill is enacted and the project goes ahead. This would put owners of properties required for the railway in broadly the same position as those affected by proposed new roads.