Yesterday (Tuesday 20 September) HS2 Ltd won a High Court injunction restricting people’s right to protest peacefully along the entire route and the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) is not happy.
The stretch-wide injunction makes it a criminal offense for anyone to enter what the company calls “HS2 land” or delay its operations. It also
criminalizes “walking slowly in front of vehicles near HS2 land”.
The Wildlife Trust, which has long opposed the high-speed rail project, says the ruling “threatens people’s right to peacefully protest construction”.
Matthew Stanton, Head of Planning and Advocacy at BBOWT said:
“This injunction restricts people’s right to protest peacefully
this environmental catastrophe. This is an affront to democracy
Undermining people’s rights to make their voices heard.
“HS2 Ltd has continued to fail in its duty to protect nature and
While we don’t support illegal protests, people must be allowed to
protest peacefully without fear of breaking the law.”
He also warned that HS2’s fencing in some areas was so poor that visitors to some of the Trust’s nature reserves could freely roam “HS2 land” without even realizing it. Should they accidentally walk onto HS2 land, they could technically face criminal prosecution under the terms of the injunction.
Security personnel have already been accused of being persistent and some BBOWT members have complained to the Trust about it
intimidated by these employees and have therefore avoided the nature reserves concerned.
However, in response to the injunction, a spokesman for HS2 Ltd said:
“HS2 Ltd welcomes this ruling and its approval of the routewide injunction. This injunction will not and is not intended to prevent legitimate protest. Instead, we hope the injunction will prevent the violence, intimidation and criminal damage that these protests have often caused, damaging the HS2 project and those involved and costing UK taxpayers millions of pounds.
“The construction of HS2 plays a crucial role in the UK’s economic recovery from the pandemic, with almost 28,000 people already working on the project and tens of thousands of additional jobs being supported through our supply chain. We are calling on everyone who cares about our natural environment to support a project that provides jobs across the UK today and will get people off cars, off planes and onto zero-carbon rail travel in the future.”
Copies of the judgment and documents relating to the application can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/…/hs2-route-wide-injunction-proceedings