NFU secures key wins for members affected by HS2

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The NFU has secured a number of crucial victories for its members affected by Phase 2a of HS2, providing essential assurances and benefits for affected farmers and growers.

Ahead of the NFU’s evidence to the High Speed Rail Bill Select Committee on 30 April, talks with HS2 secured the following key wins for affected landowners:

  • Notice of entry where HS2 will use reasonable endeavours and notify landowners of the expected quarter of the calendar year in which land is planned for occupation, and for a likely time duration contractors will be on the land.
  • Where a claim for compensation is submitted under temporary possession, interim payments will be made. These could be every three months, six months or annually.
  • A farmer may make a written request to HS2 to exercise powers of permanent acquisition for land required for the railway line and mitigation habitat creation.
  • HS2 will provide an alternative supply of water, if a private water supply is affected by construction.
  • HS2 has agreed to carry out aftercare of soils for five years, with the possibility of a further five, including covering the cost.

During its evidence session to the Select Committee, the NFU also argued for a standard notice of three months before temporary possession is taken, that interest must be added on late advance and final compensation payments, and for HS2 to use resources from commercial quarries rather than create borrow pits on farmers’ land.

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NFU Vice President Stuart Roberts said:

“The wins secured by the NFU are an important step in ensuring our members receive fair treatment and appropriate assurances from HS2.

“This project has already created considerable uncertainty for our members and has the ability to severely impact the viability of their businesses for years to come, so securing these assurances early in the process is incredibly important.

“In order for affected farms to continue their core business of producing food for the nation, productive, versatile agricultural land needs to be protected for its primary use. It is key that HS2 negotiates directly with farmers on the most appropriate locations for mitigation of habitat, balance ponds and flood areas.

“Communication with farmers and growers is vital during a project like this and regular consultations must take place to ensure farms have the appropriate means to continue running productive, profitable and competitive businesses, including access to severed land as a result of construction.”

Remaining requests from the NFU to HS2

  • Only take land that is necessary for the construction of the line itself and not to be taking the most versatile agricultural land out of production for the creation of habitat mitigation.
  • Incorporate a substantial programme of ‘accommodation works’ and access to severed land within HS2 construction plans to minimise long term impacts on farm businesses, and which is future proofed. This means ensuring farms are left in a strong viable condition and with appropriate infrastructure and access such as water supply, field drainage and bridges.
  • Consult regularly and honestly with farmers and growers and their representatives throughout the project.
  • A standard notice of three months before temporary possession is taken.
  • Ensure that compensation payments are paid promptly, along with professional fees. That interest is paid on late advance and final compensation payments, at a rate of 8%.
  • A metric to explain how habitat areas have been calculated for each farm.
  • Three commercial quarries near the south end of the route should be used to provide sand and gravel before resorting to creating borrow pits on farms. If the use of borrow pits is deemed essential, mineral survey data and the impact on the farm businesses should influence the size and area of the borrow pit.

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