FARMERS and landowners affected by HS2 should have been consulted ‘earlier and better’, according to a report from an influential group of MPs.
The First Special Report from the HS2 Select Committee detailed evidence from a range of rural organisations and businesses which are affected or represent those with land on the HS2 route.
The CLA and the NFU welcomed the report but said there were still many grey areas over tax and compulsory purchase which needed to be addressed.
CLA president Henry Robinson said: “Many farmers and landowners have felt ignored by HS2 Ltd, and although it is too late to turn the clock back lessons should be learned for the coming months, and then for Phase 2.
“The report also highlights the problems that rural businesses face in securing planning permission to replace buildings demolished under compulsory purchase. Last week the Planning Minister announced that he is writing to every local planning authority along Phase One to encourage a positive approach to allowing replacement buildings, and the CLA will be pressing for local authorities to follow this guidance."
The NFU raised its concerns after Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin announced his intention to lay a hybrid Bill in the next Parliament, bringing HS2 to Crewe earlier than planned.
NFU President Meurig Raymond said by announcing and finalising this specified route, blight to the area would be minimised. However, he said there was still a lack of ‘specific’ information, meaning farmers and landowners were being left in the dark.
“HS2 presents an unacceptable treble hit for farmers,” said Mr Raymond.
“Firstly, essential farmland is already being lost to the HS2 line; secondly, large areas are to be taken for habitat creation and tree planting will take valuable food-producing land out of production and mean that some farm businesses will not remain viable.
“Thirdly, far more new habitat is being imposed than is being lost on a questionable ‘bigger is better’ principle. It is absolutely essential that government finds a balance between what is best for nature and what is best for agriculture."
The report also highlighted the unfairness of the impacts of the current Capital Gains Tax (CGT) and Inheritance Tax (IHT) regime on owners of land or property subject to Compulsory Purchase Orders for HS2.