The NFU have submitted its evidence as part of the latest consultation into property compensation for those affected by the proposed HS2 high-speed rail project.
Following a challenge to HS2’s initial compensation package in the courts, the NFU said farmers and landowners along ‘Phase 1’ of the line between London and Birmingham will be impacted massively and wanted to ensure those affected are treated fairly.
More than 100 NFU members are directly affected by the route and the NFU remains seriously concerned over the impact the scheme will have if Parliament gives the project the go ahead. These include the proposed Long-term Hardship Scheme which the NFU believes should be applied to all properties that are affected including all forms of business and all interests in land.
NFU head of policy Dr Andrew Clark said: “It is the interpretation of the criteria for ‘hardship’ that lies at the core of why this proposal is fundamentally flawed and why we urge the Government to reconsider replacing it by a Value Based Property Bond Scheme which could be applied in and outside of the ‘rural support zone’. This would enable the functioning of the housing market and for those eligible for compensation to receive a fair and reasonable settlement. A Value Based Property Bond scheme would also enable the government to meet the criteria it has highlighted as being the most appropriate to achieve long-term discretionary property compensation.
Dr Clark said given the major impacts of the project along its route, including to many farming families and their businesses, some who have been there for generations, it is vital that there is a clear and widely accepted business case before the project is given the green light.
“The High Speed 2 project, as proposed, would be the largest single infrastructure project in the UK. This proposal has already caused significant distress and disruption to hundreds of farm businesses along the proposed route, as it has to many local communities and businesses. For scores of farming families High Speed 2 will destroy their business permanently. The Government has now published its detailed plans for the route between London and Birmingham with plans to begin construction in 2017.
“Given the major impacts of the project along its route, including to many farming families and their businesses, it is vital that there is a clear and widely accepted business case before the project is given the green light. If the project proceeds, the NFU will use all its influence with the Government, High Speed 2 Ltd and with MPs to ensure that robust arrangements are in place to minimise HS2’s impact on farm businesses, for prompt and enhanced levels of compensation and a binding duty of care during the construction phase.”