Government is neglecting farmers, landowners and rural businesses as it progresses the High Speed Rail Bill, CLA South East said today (29 April).
The message comes after the scheme passed a major milestone in the House of Commons yesterday when the bill’s Second Reading was voted through by MPs.
The contribution of the CLA – which has campaigned for fair treatment for farmers, landowners and rural businesses affected by HS2 – was recognised during the debate, but there was no discussion of the scheme’s impact on these groups.
CLA South East Regional Surveyor Tim Broomhead said: “To date, HS2 Ltd has demonstrated a total lack of interest in the plight of landowners and rural businesses. Yesterday’s debate in the House of Commons reflected this neglect.
“Farmers and landowners in Buckinghamshire are at risk of losing excessive amounts of land without fair compensation, which will devastate businesses and communities. There are landowners still waiting to see if their businesses will survive.
“CLA has campaigned for fair and generous compensation for property blight and we are pleased the debate highlighted that current compensation arrangements are inadequate. However, we are extremely disappointed that neither of the speeches delivered by the Secretary of State for Transport nor the Shadow Minister made any mention of the impacts on farmers, landowners and rural businesses.”
Mr Broomhead continued: “We are also disappointed that there was no discussion yesterday of the huge amount of land that is being compulsory purchased from landowners along the route purely for environmental mitigation at the expense of productive agricultural land, without adequate explanation from HS2 Ltd of how the mitigation will be delivered.”
The CLA said fair compensation backed by a Property Bond Scheme would provide efficient delivery of the scheme while properly mitigating the impact for those affected.
Mr Broomhead said: “Parliament needs to look hard at the way compulsory purchase treats those who lose land, businesses and property. For farmers and landowners compulsory purchase not only affects their business, but often their home. In many cases several generations of the same family have built and improved their holding. Reasonable solutions need to be found to better address the heartache felt by so many. It is devastating to see your business ruined at the unsympathetic hands of an acquirer using an antiquated compulsory purchase system.”