The NFU has petitioned on HS2 additional provisions for its members affected by Phase 2a of the project, to enable farmers and growers to continue the day-to-day running of their farm businesses with minimal disruption.
Giving evidence to the HS2 Select Committee on Phase 2a, the NFU raised concerns over particular issues, including:
· A proposed temporary diversion route intended to be used by agricultural and construction traffic which would go past a primary school and through a town;
· The lack of direct consultation on proposed overhead powerlines and the possibility of undergrounding as a first option;
· Plans to use land, which is currently highlighted for temporary stockpiles, to take spoil waste on a permanent basis, which would result in more land being taken out of agricultural production.
The NFU also asked for a general assurance to be given to farmers on borrow pits that where it has been highlighted that certain areas will not be worked, that this is guaranteed.
As well as this, the NFU requested an assurance from HS2 that negotiations with farmers on the locations of pylons will take place within six months of the Select Committee concluding.
The NFU raised a further query on a new HS2 assurance to the NFU, which states that farmers would be given three months’ notice before the date of entry for temporary possession, explaining that three months’ notice needs to be given before the calendar quarter of entry.
NFU Vice President Stuart Roberts said: “While it’s encouraging to hear the Select Committee acknowledge that there is a need for an alternative temporary diversion to be put in place to prevent agricultural and construction traffic going past a school, no more land should be taken to achieve this.
“The NFU urges HS2 to consult with farmers as soon as possible about the location of pylons for overhead lines to provide certainty for farmers, and that it properly considers installing underground powerlines as a first option.
“HS2 also needs to acknowledge that agricultural land should not be taken, especially on a permanent basis. It is essential that farmers and the land they work are taken into account throughout the whole HS2 process, enabling them to continue to run productive, profitable and competitive businesses.”