Staffordshire farmers blast HS2 authorities for “lack of respect”

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Gordon Davies, co-owner of Middleton House Farm

Gordon Davies, Middleton House Farm

Two Staffordshire brothers who face losing their 100-year-old family farm to HS2 , slammed the authorities for “lacking respect”.

Robert and Gordon Davies, of Middleton House Farm near Tamworth, will see land and buildings destroyed if construction begins.

The planned £42 billion line could cut straight through woodland where the ashes of five family members have been scattered.

And today, the brothers spoke of their anger over how the family and business is being treated.

“They’ve got no respect for our livelihood, in the same way they’ve got no respect for ancient trees that have been there for a long while,” Robert said.

“We have had a lot of stuff through the post, a lot of paperwork, and it’s not written in a very cooperative way.

“There are a lot of mistakes regarding ownership and so we correct them. Then three months later we get the same mistakes coming.

“All the buildings, to the best of our knowledge because we have had scant little knowledge or contact from HS2, will be knocked down so the business base wouldn’t exist anymore.”

Gordon said he cannot believe the family’s heritage could be lost forever.

“We have been here three generations, 101 years, since 1912,” he added.

“It is going through 17 acres of ancient woodland with a moated site which is an SSSI (Site of Specific Scientific Interest) and it is cutting the woodland completely in half.

“And in that woodland is the scattered ashes of my grandfather who brought the farm and another five deceased members of our family.

“His wishes were for his ashes to be scattered in the wood and now a train line is coming through it.”

They are also fear the farming infrastructure would not survive any building work.

“There is about 240 acres (of the farm) and we think the rail line could take up to 60 acres through the middle of the farm.

“Because it is so close, no one would want to live there.

“It’s destroying not only the farm business, also the livelihood of the 11 companies that rent units here, 30 people who work here everyday, and it will also destroy the bed and breakfast.

“It’s not actually when the line’s built, it’s the next 10-15 years while it’s being built. It will be like living on a building site.”

Proposals for funding cleared the House of Commons last week, with MPs backing it by 350 votes to 34.

Prime Minister David Cameron has publicly supported the project.

However, the Davies brothers are optimistic that this was not a full representation of the wider audience.

An artist's impression of the new HS2 line

Artist’s impression of the HS2

“A lot of MPs are against it but the moment they vote against it, they’re denied access to information, which makes fighting it much more difficult,” added Robert.

“So I think they’re holding back from fighting against it by simply not being there.

“We know that is what one of the local MPs has done.  If 350 vote for it and 34 against it, there are another 300 MPs who haven’t turned up and which way would they have voted?”

The cost of the project is now estimated at £42 billion after costs were revised in June.

HS2 spokesperson Ben Ruse said compensating local businesses like Middleton House Farm is “absolutely vital” and a significant part of the estimation.

“If you are as an individual or family adversely affected by the railway, then absolutely you should be compensated for that,” he said.

“But those individual interests cannot hold back the progress of the country.

“If we are going to take this country forward, we need to improve the transport infrastructure and the connectivity between major urban areas and that is exactly what HS2 does.

“When you have any big project you have some people who benefit more than others and you have some people who don’t benefit at all to the point where they lose out.

“Those people must be properly compensated.”

But Gordon fears compensation will take too long to agree and his family could suffer for years.

“We will receive compensation but we have no idea how much it will be.

“Compensation is paid out much later and deals are done individually and you could be waiting a long time for your money.

“We have a friend who, when they did the Birmingham M6 Toll Road, took nine years to get their final settlement.”

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