CLA (Country Land and Business Association) South East Regional Surveyor Tim Broomhead said: “The report says that the Government should aim higher in terms of biodiversity offsetting. The greatest bio-diversity off-setting gains can be achieved when local farmers and landowners have a real input. Local people have the greatest understanding of the land and can help identify the most appropriate areas for creating and maintaining new habitats to help off-set those that will be lost.
“HS2’s consultation with local landowners on environmental improvement has been inadequate. If there had been more engagement with landowners, HS2 Ltd could have established the best sites for biodiversity offsetting using less productive land that has less impact on agricultural and other businesses, requiring less land to be subject to compulsory purchase orders.”
Christopher Prideaux, of the Doddershall Estate in Quainton, said: “HS2 will have a severe effect on our land. It seems likely that Government will require us to sell land for the railway itself, and then more land for bio-diversity off-setting to help reduce the environmental impact of the project.
“However, we are concerned that Government will not select the most appropriate land for environmental off-setting, because HS2 has not consulted with us at all on bio-diversity. The proposed bio-diversity off-setting is completely out of scale and downgrades much-needed arable land for food production.
“HS2 should be working with farmers and landowners to look for the best opportunities to create and maintain new habitats and minimise negative impacts on our business.”
Mr Broomhead adds: “The HS2 Environmental Statement, published in 2013, contains a raft of environmental mitigation features but does not detail how the sites will be managed in the long-term. Landowners are best-placed to manage environmental mitigation, and we are urging HS2 to speak with our members to reach commercial deals for the long-term management of new environmental features.”