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Exclusive: Stop HS2 carving up my historic estate

Staffordshire | News | Published:

A 6,000-acre estate of farms, woodland and homes would be carved up by the controversial high speed rail line HS2.

Lord Stafford, the 15th of his line and heir to a number of baronetcies dating back to 1299, today told how his grand home Swynnerton Hall is just 700 yards from where the 225mph train will run.

The baron, born Francis Fitzherbert, is campaigning against HS2 but has also told how he is preparing to plant more trees in an effort to screen the idyllic estate of Swynnerton Park as much as possible. The route for the second phase of HS2, which goes up to Manchester and Leeds, was revealed in January.

Lord Stafford has also questioned the benefits of the scheme, which would run for 4.5 miles through Swynnerton. And he revealed he had taken legal advice. "I've seen lawyers in London, I've seen agents about compensation in London. We've walked the whole line and been to conferences. It's taking a huge amount of time," he said.

The land is also used for businesses including dairy farmers and Lord Stafford also started to develop 21 houses in the village last August. Lord Stafford said: "Thankfully the business model was not to try to sell the houses. If I had wanted to, I would not be able to.

"I borrowed £3.2m and used land as a security to build them and I'm going to lease them out. I do wonder if I would have done that development had I known."

Lord Stafford told how he was not a 'nimby' landowner and that his family had always understood the need for other developments on their land, including the original rail line, a munitions factory in the Second World War and the M6 motorway. But he said he did not believe HS2 would bring benefits to Staffordshire, despite cutting a swathe through it.

Clive Green, spokesman for HS2, said: "We want to work with country landowners because we recognise them as custodians of the countryside.

"To that end we are embarking on an extensive public consultation on the initial preferred route for Phase Two of HS2, which will include a day long public event at the Staffordshire County Showground on December 10. We encourage all members of the public to participate."

Peer's personal fight against march of HS2 - See your Weekend Express & Star

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