That’s the message the NFU has taken to the HS2 Select Committee today.
The rail line is set to have an impact on hundreds of farms along the route. The NFU is urging the government and HS2 Ltd to recognise how important the land being taken is to food production and farming businesses.
NFU President Meurig Raymond said: “The top priority for the NFU is that farm businesses are treated fairly and are able to operate as normal.
“We are still waiting for satisfactory assurances on crucial points for farmers and we put these to the MPs on HS2 Select Committee today. Fields are the shop floor of farming businesses and this must be considered when there are plans to take land.
“Farmers must be able to have continuity in their businesses; some farm businesses will see their agricultural buildings and farmhouses demolished by the HS2 project, so planning permission for replacement buildings is essential. With this, we need to see a firmer steer given to local planning authorities to make this happen.
“There’s no doubt about it: the proposed land take, particularly for land created to replace habitat for wildlife, is excessive. Land take should be decided on quality rather than quantity - a negotiated location which preserves the best and most versatile farmland. Locations must be flexible to accommodate this.
For the Woods, of Portways Farm, Buckinghamshire, HS2 will take 170 of their 206 acres, destroy a 300-year-old house and threaten the business started by Mike’s grandfather. Watch their story here.
“We’re also calling on the Treasury to alleviate tax liabilities where farmers look to replace assets taken by HS2. The Treasury must recognise that the size of this scheme will make finding replacements within the time limits for capital gains tax purposes near impossible. Farmers must not be forced to seek additional compensation for the cost of an enforced tax liability.
“After over two years of lobbying on HS2 we have been successful in securing some assurances from HS2 such as aftercare for soil and in one case the relocation of earthworks. We must see more of this pragmatism up and down the line on other business critical aspects of farming such as the reinstatement of drainage and the continuity of water supply.
“HS2 Ltd must recognise the importance of farming and implement a duty of care to the farm businesses set to be affected by this railway.”