Leicestershire farmers discuss HS2 fears
Leicestershire farmers whose land could be blighted by the proposed High Speed 2 rail route met to discuss their concerns yesterday.
About 40 people attended a meeting called by the National Farmers' Union in Ashby.
A leg of the £32 billion, 250mph train line is set to pass right by the town and cut through rural north-west Leicestershire, without stopping, as it runs from Birmingham to Leeds.
Many of the farmers turned up to get information on a compensation and compulsory purchase scheme proposed by the Government as it tries to get the land it needs.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Wednesday, May 22 2013
NFU rural surveyor Louise Staples said: "We know about the route now and the Government will need to get entry to farmers' land as they prepare for the project.
"The impact of the construction will be enormous.
"Farmers can put in a claim but it could be five to seven years before they get any payment."
Osgathorpe arable farmer Ian Bourne has land at Worthington that will be affected by the route.
He said: "We'll be marginally affected. They will have to take a lot of land for the construction phase, but they will then hand some of it back once they are done.
"Access is the big worry. If a field is split in two by the railway then one half of it will be of no use if there is not a tunnel or a bridge to get a combine harvester or tractor across.
"That would be quite an expensive undertaking and it doesn't look like they will do it unless there is a public footpath involved.
"There are also concerns about the rates at which land will be bought."
It is unlikely that any construction work on the Birmingham to Leeds route will start until 2026. No trains will run until at least 2032.
North West Leicestershire MP Andrew Bridgen raised the issue of HS2 in Prime Minister's Question Time this week.
He was given an assurance that officials from HS2 Ltd – the Government-owned company in charge of the project – would come to his constituency.
Mr Bridgen, who has joined an all-party parliamentary group opposing the scheme, said: "I am pleased we will get the meeting. The next step is to arrange a venue and time."
Mr Bridgen's own home is about 100 yards from the proposed track.
He said: "It could be 13 years before work even begins on the second phase.
"The blight is there now and is already having an affect on the property market.
"It could still all be cancelled by a future Government.
"The compensation zone for the hardship scheme is 120 metres from the track. It's ridiculous because it takes no account of topography.
"David Cameron said the scheme was generous but it wasn't for phase one of HS2. So far, only 54 people have been paid."
HS2 officials said the company was contacting all land and property owners who would be affected.
HS2 director Ian Jordan said: "This is the beginning of the process, not the end."