By politics.co.uk staff
An independent panel assessing compensation claims for those affected by the government's high-speed rail plans is being launched today.
The exceptional hardship scheme is designed to help those who cannot sell their home because of plans to build the London-to-Birmingham line.
It is proving deeply controversial. Only one of the three routes being considered by the coalition government is covered by the scheme, which places the burden of proof on the seller.
In order to receive compensation the property must have been on the market for three months and have received no offers worth 85% or more of its unaffected market value. Sellers must also demonstrate a need to move.
Campaigners are not impressed by the government's claim that the scheme will prove carbon-neutral.
"It seems to us to be strange we're talking about compensation before we've had a national discussion on whether this proposal should go ahead," Catherine Gurney of High Speed 2 Action Alliance told the Today programme.
He said there were no environmental or economic benefits to the scheme, which ministers claim will help improve Britain's transport infrastructure.
"It has the potential to be the great white elephant of this administration," Ms Gurney added.
The High Speed 2 route currently under consideration would pass south of Aylesbury from London Euston, before arriving at a new station in Birmingham after heading between Coventry and Kenilworth.
It would travel at speeds of up to 250mph, reducing the journey time between Britain's two largest cities to just 49 minutes.