Delays in compensation, the heavy-handed use of GVDs (General Vesting Declarations) to permanently acquire land and incidents where the works have led to drainage problems and flooding were all on the agenda.
The NFU again pushed for habitat mitigation management agreements, with payment rates, to be sent to affected farmers to allow proper consideration of whether they want to keep ownership of land.
“It is essential that farm businesses are left in a strong, viable condition where land can still be farmed productively.”
NFU senior rural surveyor Louise Staples
Toll on mental health
And it highlighted the impacts of the project on farmers’ mental health – particularly where the upheaval has been combined with poor communication from HS2 Ltd.
The minister was also asked why ‘safeguarding’ restrictions affecting land between East Midlands Airport and Leeds had been left in place, despite widespread reports that there may not be a high-speed line there following publication of the government’s Integrated Rail Plan in November.
Speaking afterwards, Ms Staples said delays in tackling the more difficult elements of the project were causing members significant cash flow problems.
She added: “The meeting was an opportunity to set out to the minister the experiences of many farmers on the route, who have had to endure years of mounting financial pressures and uncertainties that have caused huge stress and anxiety.
“HS2 is still failing to provide relevant information and to compensate farmers on time, or to address claims adequately.”
“We recognise the importance of the nation’s transport infrastructure, but it is essential that farm businesses are left in a strong, viable condition where land can still be farmed productively. The NFU will continue to represent its members’ interests to ensure that any disruption is kept to a minimum.”
A follow-up meeting with the minister is expected.