A sense of shock was the word most used when residents in Fairford Leys described the arrival of work connected to the contentious HS2 scheme this week.
Residents in Napier Road said that although they are resigned to the high-speed rail project arriving 350 metres from their homes in the village, they thought it would be many years away.
But contractors with high-vis jackets bearing the HS2 logo were in their midst this week carrying out tasks near to the old Hartwell House entrance.
Resident David Stopps was returning home on Monday night from a trip to the Dominican Republic – and a near miss from Hurricane Matthew – only to find himself embroiled in a storm of a completely different kind.
He said: “It appears HS2 has started already. Workmen have destroyed a hedge in Napier Road – which local residents like me voluntarily maintain, cut and care for – in order to gain access to an ancient meadow, which used to be home to the old access road to Hartwell House.
“This entrance went straight from its front door to the A41 and came out at where Rabans Lane intersects Bicester Road.
“The road was lined with old oaks many of which are still standing on this site.
“Without warning HS2 workman moved onto this ancient field. There was no notice given to residents and no planning notices on display.
“They also brought large lorries into the field over an old bridge that was never designed for heavy vehicles.
“This was a very dangerous and reckless thing to do. It’s a miracle the bridge is still standing. The arrogance is unbelievable – it shouldn’t be allowed to happen.”
On Tuesday, residents’ cars were situated in such a way that access in Napier Road was blocked. A sign was propped in front of one car stating ‘NO HS2 ACCESS HERE’.
Fencing from equipment hire firm Gap was being unloaded from a flat-bed truck.
By early afternoon, a crane was deployed to manoeuvre fencing around the cars.
Bucks County Council member for Fairford Leys Steven Lambert, who has spoken in the Commons against HS2, said he was shocked residents were not properly informed.
“We have always told HS2 the work shouldn’t be done to us, but with us. It really puts people’s backs up.”
District and parish councillor Andrew Cole said: “They have already ripped up a hedge to make an access point and their intent was to drive a lorry full of equipment through the hedge and into the field.
“I am aware they put in a planning application along the hedgerow but we were assured they would not need to touch the hedgerow as it formed a natural barrier.
“We have also been told and assured that traffic would not be accessing areas of Fairford Leys as they have access from the A413. In fact, their traffic modelling was based on this fact. Yet they have ignored that from the start.
“Is this now what our residents are going to have to put up with in the coming years?”
A HS2 spokesman said: “In order to prepare for construction to begin on HS2 next year, ground investigations are being undertaken on the whole line of route.
“In Fairford Leys this means we are gathering information on geology and ground conditions which helps us develop the line’s detailed design work. We will seek to minimise the impacts on the community during the works.
“This ground investigation will take place with the prior agreement of the Aylesbury Park Golf Club owner and tenants, which includes the removal of a hedge on Napier Road and its replanting after work is completed in around six weeks’ time.”
He claimed letters were hand-delivered to around 150 homes to explain the work and how it would affect roads.
“We have informed Bucks County Council’s highways department and Coldharbour Parish Council of the work we are due to undertake,” the spokesman added.