HS2 compensation scheme is 'miserly'
FARMERS affected by the proposed high speed railway across Staffordshire have been advised to take action to ensure they receive maximum compensation.
Around 200 farmers and landowners from across the county gathered for yesterday's meeting on HS2 phase two, organised by the National Farmers' Union.
The planned line between Birmingham and Manchester, set to be completed by 2032, will cut through Newcastle and Stafford boroughs.
Dozens of farmers only discovered last month that their land would be directly affected, following the publication of the initial proposals.
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NFU representatives, who have been negotiating with HS2 Ltd, advised their members to raise any concerns directly with the company.
Ivan Moss, NFU planning policy adviser, said HS2 Ltd was only currently consulting on an 'exceptional hardship scheme'.
He described the scheme, aimed at those who will suffer badly from falling property prices due to the phase two proposals, as 'miserly'.
Mr Moss said: "There is currently no statutory mechanism for compensation for those affected by the phase two proposals. There is just the exceptional hardship scheme.
"In order to access this you need to be able to prove that you are suffering from exceptional hardship. I think this has a really Dickensian feel to it. You need to show that you have an urgent need to sell."
Mr Moss said that property owners have until April 29 to take part in the exceptional hardship scheme consultation.
Roger Bedson, from compensation consultants Hinson Parry, said landowners would need to have all their paperwork in order to avoid losing out on compensation.
He advised farmers to consult their land agents and lawyers, and ensure that any tenancy agreements were set out in writing.
Farmers were also advised to tell HS2 Ltd about any other issues that could affect their land, such as the need for bridges over the railway, and the problem of noise mitigation.
Some of those who attended the meeting argued that landowners should be fighting against the plans, which they believed were unnecessary and prohibitively expensive.
But the main concern of others was ensuring they received adequate compensation.
Christopher Slater, who owns a farm near Whitmore, will be one of those affected.
The 69-year-old said: "I was really surprised when I learnt that the line would be going straight through my farm.
"It's been in my family so long, and I want my sons to be able to take over. It's annoying that I'll probably never have the chance to ride on the HS2 myself, but I'm going to have to put up with all the fuss.
"Having attended this meeting I don't think there will be any point in fighting the plans. But I want to make sure I get enough compensation."