Farmer blocks field with huge tree to get compensation from HS2

Farmer Simon Burton laid a huge fallen tree in front of his field near Wormleighton in protest at his treatment by HS2. Photo: Simon Burton NNL-180926-111323001
Farmer Simon Burton laid a huge fallen tree in front of his field near Wormleighton in protest at his treatment by HS2. Photo: Simon Burton NNL-180926-111323001

A farmer believes the Government needs to treat those affected by HS2 more fairly after resorting to blocking contractors’ access to his field.

Sam Burton decided to lay a five-tonne tree by the gate to his field near Wormleighton on Monday after waiting weeks for compensation.

The protest helped to resolve the issue but Mr Burton hopes this ‘sends a message’ to the Government about the frustration felt by many people affected by HS2.

“It shouldn’t have to happen, they need to do better at being fair and engaging with farmers and land owners,”he said.

Neighbouring land to Mr Burton was chosen for a ‘heave test’ to see how the soil would react once the high-speed railway is eventually built.

Access was needed through his field and work which began in May was delayed as Roman remains were found by archaeologists.

But the contractors, Eiffage Kier, asked Mr Burton to save a around six acres of the wheat field and mark it out, which he would be compensated for. But the test was never carried out before harvest meaning the crop removal was unnecessary.

So the farmer applied for compensation and was told in mid-August that ‘a cheque was in the post’.

However nothing had arrived after six weeks so he blocked off the access in protest, which did make a difference as the cheque arrived the next day.

Mr Burton said he has tried his best to be helpful with the project but after being ‘messed around’ he was compelled to take action.

Since his stunt, which was covered by Farmer’s Weekly and apparently went viral, Mr Burton said he has received support from others affected, with many saying they were struggling to get fair compensation from HS2 Ltd.

“It seems to have made a big point to HS2 about the level of feeling and support for doing it and I think it’s given them a bit of a wake up call,” he said.

“I’ve tried to be co-operative with them as I thought it was better to make the best of a bad thing rather than putting up a full resistance, which we have been doing. But I felt I was given false assurances and being messed around with so that prompted me to do something to stop them accessing through the site.”

An HS2 spokesman said: “In all cases we are seeking a fair deal for both landowner and the taxpayer and we work to achieve this as swiftly as possible.”