An arable farmer whose land is being taken up by HS2 has said disorganisation and destruction from the works has cost his business tens of thousands of pounds and caused emotional turmoil for other local farmers.
David Jones, who farms near Kenilworth, Warwickshire, was told he could not harvest crop within a certain vicinity of the works because it jeopardised health and safety, leaving areas of Group 1 milling wheat still standing, which will be mown by contractors and scrapped.
Mr Jones said: “We have been farming around HS2 contractors for four seasons while they have been on the farm doing trials and digs, but instead of marking their area so we have got clarity and we can both get on, they want us to farm where ever we can and then they come into the crop, so we are left picking up what we can behind them.
"It is like trying to farm within a building site.”
About 16 hectares of Mr Jones’ land was initially going to be affected by the works, but following environmental impact searches and tests, he said it was now more like 40ha.
Phase 1 of the works, from Birmingham to London will see the compulsory purchase of about 7000ha of land along the route of the railway.
Mr Jones added: “Many more people are affected a lot worse than us and others locally have had a very nasty time out of it. Compensation is totally undervaluing people’s property and land.
“We appreciate things have to be done and we have tried to work with them on a very practical scale right the way through, but the disorganisation is shocking.”
Since works began four years ago, field entrances have been blocked, machinery has been damaged from equipment left in the field and compensation claims have been rejected.
With concerns for the long-term impact on his land, Mr Jones estimates he has lost tens of thousands of pounds through loss of crop and time spent managing his farm around the works.
He said: “There has been no plans put in place for field drainage when they have been and gone.
"We want to have our land left fit for purpose both during and after.
“Last year we put a 100 per cent genuine claim in for crop losses - they chose to throw it back out and said my figures were incorrect, so I showed them grain contracts and yield and they back-tracked.
“Several hire companies have gone bust through negligence – they have been given contracts and HS2 have backed out because they do not have the work scheduled. We are seeing this total waste of money every day just by the way they go about the work.
“In the past we have had the M40 and M1 built, but never dealt with in this manner. It feels to us like it is a train out of control.”
A spokesperson for HS2 said: “We understand people may be concerned about the impacts of building Britain’s new high speed railway, and are committed to treating everyone whose land is affected - either temporarily or permanently, fairly and with respect.
“In all cases we try to cause as little disruption as possible, but safety is our top consideration. Our work locations are strictly controlled by law, and some of our sites can affect farmers’ access to land.
“HS2 Ltd has a duty to pay fair and reasonable compensation, including loss of income due to restricted land access, whilst also undertaking the right level of scrutiny before payments are made.”