NFU calls for quick land resolution following HS2 cancellation

27 October 2023

A photo from HS2 construction works near Stoneleigh, UK.

Following the cancellation of the northern stretch of the HS2 rail projects, the NFU is calling for a quick return of land taken from farmers and growers under compulsory purchase.

In a letter sent by NFU Vice President David Exwood to Secretary of State for Transport Mark Harper, he highlighted the need for the government to develop a 'transparent policy' to ensure farmers and former landowners can purchase land back, with a first option of refusal. 

‘Farmers and growers must have a fair and swift resolution’

Commenting on the topic, David said: “As farmers, we recognise the importance of infrastructure development, but many have been left with more uncertainty and delay after part of the HS2 project was cancelled.

“Farmers and growers must have a fair and swift resolution when it comes to land compensation and restoration.”

David also raised concerns around how the government is resolving issues surrounding HS2 disruption and the eventual phase 2 cancellation, urging them to “accelerate the process” as swiftly as possible.

“It’s essential that farm businesses already so badly disrupted by this project get back to doing what they do best – producing climate-friendly and nutritious food for the country.”

NFU Vice President David Exwood

Moreover, the letter asks that the government lifts safeguarding measures in place for Phase 2 land – this should be done in the coming weeks for land taken in Phase 2a, and no later than next year for Phase 2b, as outlined in the government’s new Network North plans.

In addition, the NFU is calling for land to be returned to its former condition where required, for outstanding crop loss payments to be finalised and paid out, as well as any outstanding compensation claims that have been made by farmers.


Once the government declares that land is ‘safeguarded’, no landowner can carry out any development on that area of land. In this case, land can be safeguarded by HS2 for development at a later date. Safeguarding has been an issue on the planned route to Leeds.

Where a Blight Notice has been served and accepted, the NFU asks that the notice is proceeded with unless the claimant prefers otherwise.

David also emphasised the importance that the Department for Transport acts quickly to understand the many different scenarios that landowners will find themselves in which need to be addressed, adding that this “will help to lead to a fair and equitable outcome for all parties involved”.

He added: “The current level of uncertainty surrounding the HS2 project is unsettling for many members and the broader community, and it’s essential that the many farm businesses already so badly disrupted by this project can start to rebuild their businesses and get back to doing what they do best – producing climate-friendly and nutritious food for the country.”

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