The National Farmers Union (NFU) has urged HS2 Ltd to treat farming communities fairly as the first phase of the controversial rail-line receives Royal Assent.
The NFU said it will hold HS2 to the assurances it has made to mitigate the effects of construction on farm businesses.
Notices to farmers will be served by this spring to take land under temporary occupation, which enables HS2 to access land and begin construction of the line between London and Birmingham.
NFU Vice President Guy Smith said that as HS2 starts construction, the NFU wants to send a 'strong reminder' to HS2 and its contractors to abide to its binding duty of care and consider the impact on farmers’ homes and livelihoods.
'Regular communication is critical'
Mr Smith said regular communication between HS2 and farmers from this point on is 'critical'.
He said: “One-to-one meetings with farmers is as an essential part of this. If HS2 does not get this right, they could put the viability of farm businesses at severe risk.
“The NFU has secured an assurance from HS2 that an agricultural liaison officer will be in place before construction starts and that contact details will be provided to landowners. This officer needs to be in place now to play an important part in explaining to farmers what is going to happen over the next few months.
Mitigating the impact
Farmers will now need time to plan to be able to mitigate the impact before land is taken.
Mr Smith continued: “As much notice as possible must be given to our members before temporary possession.
“The NFU is urging HS2 to give far more than the 28 days’ notice before entry is taken on to any land - three months’ notice should be rolled out for all land take.
“We will hold HS2 to account on its liability to farmers and rural business owners for its contractors and sub-contractors actions. And this also applies to the acquisition teams employed by HS2 to follow the same principles.”
Last month, the Government confirmed that HS2 Ltd is not allowed to buy land through compulsory purchase to develop projects unrelated to the construction of the rail line.