NFU calls on HS2 to resolve issues for farmers

15 May 2023

Cones and signs near an entrance to HS2 building works

The NFU has written to HS2 bosses urging them to resolve issues on access, compensation and building delays ahead of the latest round of petitioning.

Building work for the new high-speed railway line threatens the future of dairy farms as it prevents access to crucial grassland, the NFU has told HS2 bosses in a letter from Vice-president David Exwood.

Watch dairy farmer Ed Dale and Ben Fitzherbert, Managing Director of Swynnerton Estates, explain the issues they are experiencing with HS2.

Development splits farms

Farm businesses along Phase 2a of the line in Staffordshire will see their land divided in two as part of the development. HS2 gave reassurances that it would build underpasses or overbridges to allow access to the land, but now it says these won’t be built until after building work has finished, farmers and their agents say.

In some cases, farmers have been told that they will not be able to move their cows from one side of their land to the other while the proposed line is being constructed.

Changes needed

David Exwood called for urgent solutions in his letter to HS2 Minister Hew Merriman and CEO Mark Thurston and explained that if temporary access to agricultural vehicles could be agreed, especially during harvest and silage time, then some farm businesses could continue to operate.

He also questioned the need for HS2 to acquire and use the main drive of farms as well as raising concerns about uncertainty due to delays and payment of fair compensation.

The letter comes as the NFU continued to represent and support members’ interests by petitioning the HS2 Select Committee in Parliament in May. Anyone who is directly and specifically affected by the proposed line from Crewe to Manchester is allowed to make their voice heard and ask for changes to be made.

NFU members deserve better 

The work follows a farm visit by David Exwood where he heard directly from NFU members in Staffordshire who are affected by Phase 2a of HS2.

He said: “While we recognise the importance of investing in the nation’s transport infrastructure a lack of respect by HS2 to NFU members is appalling, they deserve better.

“Farm businesses must be left in a strong, viable condition where land can still be farmed productively, and that HS2 Ltd provides far greater clarity as the project continues.

“NFU members can be assured that we remain committed to this issue and will continue to work on their behalf and challenge wherever we can.”

HS2 Select Committee proceedings can be followed live on Parliament TV on 9 May.

HS2 cuts access to farmland

Dairy farmer Ed Dale and Ben Fitzherbert, Managing Director of Swynnerton Estates, explain that, despite promises to build underpasses, HS2 will now not allow them any access across the line during construction. This could be up to 7 years and will cut them off from land they need to produce food.

Read more on HS2

This page was first published on 04 May 2023. It was updated on 15 May 2023.

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