What will happen to farmland acquired for the construction of the now-scrapped leg of HS2 is uncertain.

Following days of speculation, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak today (Wednesday, October 4) confirmed that the HS2 new line between Birmingham and Manchester will no longer go ahead.

“We will deliver HS2 between Birmingham and Euston as planned but we will extend it no further,” Sunak said.

Agriland understands that HS2 Ltd. will begin the process of communicating with landowners and business to set out where property may be sold back to the original owners.

However, according to Mark Tufnell, president of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), there is currently “no right” for original landowners whose land was bought for the purpose of the scrapped leg of HS2 to get their land back.

“HS2 Ltd. may sell the land on the open market, and it could be bought by anyone,” he said.

“By contrast, land that is compulsorily acquired by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is covered by rules that oblige the MoD to offer back to the original owner at current market value, before it’s offered on the open market.

“Given the increased use of Compulsory Purchase Orders for infrastructure, the CLA is calling on government to extend this ‘right of first refusal’ to all land that has been subject to compulsory purchase by HS2 Ltd,” he added.

HS2 funds redirected

Prime Minister Sunak confirmed that funding set aside for the scrapped HS2 leg is being redirected into other transport projects. The cornerstone of this plan will be a new project titled ‘Network North’. 

The aim of these new projects is to improve local travel; travel within and to nearby cities.

“By scrapping [that part of HS2], every penny from the Northern leg of HS2 will go to the north and every penny from the Midlands leg to the Midlands,” he said.

“Rather than just connecting Birmingham and Manchester, we will invest £36 billion in hundreds of projects in towns, cities and rural areas across our whole country, and in roads, rail, and buses – investment on a truly unprecedented scale that will drive economic growth and provide jobs.”