BBOWT say HS2 injunction is an affront to democracy

21/09/2022

pic: Mark Vallance

A high court injunction was granted along the high-speed rail route yesterday

People’s right to peacefully protest against the construction of HS2 has been threatened following a High Court injunction yesterday – that’s according to the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT).

The Trust has long opposed the high-speed rail project because of the associated environmental damage.

The route-wide injunction now makes it a criminal offence for anyone to enter what the company calls “HS2 land”, or to delay its operations.  It also criminalises “slow walking in front of vehicles in the vicinity of the HS2 Land”.

As part of the high-speed rail project HS2 took possession of parts of the Trust’s Calvert Jubilee reserve between Bicester and Buckingham.   Finmere Wood reserve is also directly affected by the works.

Matthew Stanton, Head of Planning and Advocacy for BBOWT, said: “This injunction restricts people’s right to protest peacefully against this environmental disaster.   This is an affront to democracy, undermining people’s rights to make their voices heard.

“HS2 Ltd has continued to fail in its duties to protect nature and, while we do not support illegal protest, people must be allowed to protest against this peacefully, without fear of breaking the law.”

BBOWT claims that HS2 security staff stand accused of being “heavy-handed” with some BBOWT members.

Mr Stanton added: “As a Wildlife Trust we do not support illegal protests, but people are protesting because HS2 Ltd has continued to fail in its duties to protect nature, and people must be able to protest peacefully. The injunction goes too far and will not only stop illegal activities, but makes some forms of peaceful protest illegal as well.

“It seems somewhat ironic that an organisation that has caused its own delays at the cost of billions of pounds wants others who cause delays to be fined or imprisoned. We are deeply disappointed this injunction has been granted.”

A spokesperson for HS2 Ltd said: “HS2 Ltd welcomes this Judgment and its approval of the route-wide injunction. As Justice Knowles makes clear, this injunction will not, and is not intended to, stop legitimate protest. Instead, we hope the injunction will prevent the violence, intimidation, and criminal damage these protests have frequently caused, harming the HS2 project and those working on it, and costing the UK taxpayer millions of pounds.

“The construction of HS2 is playing a vital role in Britain’s economic recovery from the pandemic, with almost 28,000 people already working on the project and tens of thousands of additional jobs supported through our supply chain. We urge everyone who cares about our natural environment to support a project that is providing work across the UK today, and in the future will get people out of cars, off planes and onto zero carbon rail travel.”


Published: by Banbury FM Newsteam

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