FARMERS and landowners facing blight from the proposed high speed rail line through Staffordshire have been urged to start documenting the ways it is affecting them – despite facing several months’ wait for contact from the company responsible.
Almost 200 people attended a meeting on HS2 organised by the NFU at the County Showground on Monday.
They were told of the challenges of applying for compensation under the exceptional hardship scheme, that statutory compensation measures had yet to be finalised and that those living and farming along the route may not be contacted by HS2 regarding environmental and engineering surveys “for some months”,
Speakers included NFU rural surveyor Louise Staples, NFU policy adviser Ivan Ross and Roger Bedson of Hinson Parry, who is working towards HS2 compensation provision as vice chair to the valuation, compensation and taxation committee of the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers.
Mr Bedson said: “A claim for disturbance can be made after events have happened. Keep a diary of how your land is affected by the works.
“If you have a situation where you may be affected now keep a paper trail and timeline. Make sure everything is in order.”
The meeting also heard from farmers who are facing their land being sliced up by the first phase of HS2 – former Staffordshire NFU chairman Robert Lockhart, who farms potatoes and cereals near Tamworth, and John Barnes of Packington Moor Farm near Lichfield, who has diversified his mixed farm to include a wedding venue and farm shop.
The showground itself will be affected if the current route goes ahead as proposed, with the woodland area to the west lying in the path of the line.
And many farmers who attended Monday’s meeting had already began to feel the affects of the HS2 proposals, without a spade even entering the ground.
Peter Baumber, of Blithbury near Rugeley, told the meeting how his smallholding had been blighted despite being more than a mile away from the proposed line.
“My wife was diagnosed with cancer and we have been looking to downsize since April 2010,” he said. “Then my estate agent said ‘I have come to tell you you can wipe £250,000 off the value of your property’.
“This is appalling and I feel sorry for everyone in this room. We are going to be spending £32bn on this – who is going to pay for it? Our grandchildren? This evil will go four generations down the line.”