FARMING MATTERS: M25 and HS2 means massive change for farmers

Baling straw in an arable field in the Vale
Baling straw in an arable field in the Vale

If you are a fan of Downton Abbey you will have noticed the storyline involving two tenant farmers moving on from the farms where they live and work.

Prior to the First World War nearly all farmers were tenants of the country estates. But following the break up of many large estates during the early part of the last century more farmers became owner ocupiers.

Many things affect andinfluence the industry, for good and bad, not least major developments and government projects.

My husband’s family moved into south Hertfordshire from the west country in the early 1900s, but from the 1950s onwardstheir land was being compulsory purchased for a variety of schemes forcing them to move out to the Aylesbury Vale area. Within 30 years nearly all the land they had once farmed in Hertfordshire was part of Greater London or the M25.

Now, with the proposal to build a high speed railway through the Vale, history could be repeating itself.

The train line and possibly, we now discover, a road, may affect our land. We are not the only ones, and by far we are not the most severely affected. Some farmers have the railway cutting directly through their farmyard and knocking down their homes. But ‘progress’ for some inevitably means unwanted and enormous life changes for others.