Landowners affected by the government’s High Speed 2 (HS2) railway project in the Midlands will be offered interim payments for temporary possession of land, according to the NFU.
The union says the payments could be made every three, six or 12 months and they are part of a number of “crucial victories” for members it has secured with HS2 Ltd, the company set up by the government to oversee the construction.
The agreement applies to landowners located along phase 2a of the HS2 route, the 37-mile stretch from West Midlands to Crewe.
Overall, the NFU understands that 58 farms along this proposed route will face “significant adverse effects”, with some losing land on a temporary basis and others facing permanent losses.
On one stretch of the route – from Colwich to Yarlet – seven agricultural holdings are also facing the demolition of buildings and three may lose residential premises. Noise could also be a problem in some areas.
During an evidence session of the High Speed Rail Bill select committee on Monday (30 April), the NFU also argued for a standard notice of three months before temporary possession is taken.
In addition, 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, the union said.
Further ‘key wins’
The NFU says talks with HS2 have also secured a number of other key wins for landowners. These include:
- 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
- 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.
‘Communicate with farmers’
NFU vice-president Stuart Roberts said: “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.”