In some cases farms could be cut in half by the proposed rail link from the West Midlands to Church Fenton via Leeds city centre as part of Phase 2b of HS2 - one of Britain’s largest ever infrastructure projects.
Maps issued as part of a public consultation on the scheme’s Working Draft Environmental Statement show the route in detail and include suggestions from HS2 Ltd on how it plans to lessen the environmental effects that the high-speed train line is expected to have on the landscape.
The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) told The Yorkshire Post that it was currently contacting members whose land could be affected and urging them to have their say on the impact they expect the route would have on their businesses.
HS2 Ltd, the company behind the high-speed rail link’s construction, said that its plans will continue to evolve, with a spokesman promising that the company will take on board all the feedback it receives during a 10-week consultation which runs until Friday, December 21.
The finalised proposals are due to go before Parliament in 2020 ahead of construction work starting in the mid-2020s.
James Copeland, environment and land use adviser at NFU North East, said: “The favoured route of phase 2B of the HS2 route is likely to impact over 2,000 hectares of agricultural land during construction and over 1,000 hectares of agricultural land will be lost permanently to the final route.
“We are urging our members to respond to the consultation because this is the first time that many farmers will have seen how much land they are likely to lose to the line and associated works.”
The NFU held two meetings with farmers in Yorkshire this week as part of a series of events to complement public information events being held in the region by HS2 Ltd.
Mr Copeland urged farmers to scrutinise the draft plans carefully and engage with the consultation process.
“This is a very critical step in the scheme’s development, with farmers able to highlight aspects that HS2 may have got wrong, such as drainage and access,” he said.
“The consultation feedback will be taken into consideration before a final Environmental Statement is submitted to Parliament alongside the hybrid Bill.”
Farmers effected by the proposed route will not necessarily be those whose farmland lies directly where the rail line is currently intended to run.
Mr Copeland added: “Even if the route does not directly pass through a farmer’s land, it could for example, affect primary access points at harvest time so farmers need to be engaging with the consultation process.”
The NFU has been and will continue to hold meetings with its members about the plans, and will provide regular updates for those in the region who are impacted by the route, Mr Copeland said.
He added that any farming members who wanted to be kept up to date with HS2 developments in the region to contact the NFU North East branch’s office in York on 01904 451550.
The full HS2 scheme is expected to be completed by 2032/3. HS2 Ltd say it will bring a range of benefits from increased trade and a boost to tourism, to job creation and the regeneration of towns and cities.
More than 90 Yorkshire-based companies have been awarded contracts to work on the project so far.
A spokesman for HS2 Ltd said: “HS2 will deliver major benefits to Yorkshire. It is becoming integral to local plans to drive business growth, create jobs and secure investment in the area years before it arrives.
“We’re currently consulting on our Working Draft Environmental Statement which sets out our commitment to minimising the impacts of the railway during construction and operation.”
Building the line through South and West Yorkshire up to a newly-built station in Leeds will involve the demolition of more than 100 homes and businesses.
As well as farmland, the line would pass through woodland, by fishing lakes and across golf courses, and will also involve closures and diversion on some of the county’s busiest roads.
The company said it was committed to supporting those who are impacted by its proposals.
The spokesman added: “We continue to work closely with the NFU and actively encourage them to respond to our public consultation. Feedback from the public consultations will play an important role in helping to shape the final designs for the new railway.”