Environmental campaigners arrested for protesting HS2

Monday, January 27, 2020

Three Stop HS2 protesters have been arrested for refusing to move from a site set to be cleared for the high speed rail project.

A group of activists engaged in a standoff with project contractors on Welsh Road in South Cubbington this morning in a bid to stop the felling of trees and hedgerows.

The road was set to be closed so the stretch of woodland could be cleared to make way for the rail route – which may or may not go ahead pending a government review.

In a video posted to Facebook, police can be heard issuing warnings that the protestors could be arrested for aggravated trespass because of their refusal to allow contractors to carry out their work.

One officer said: “I don’t want to arrest people, I really don’t, but we are unfortunately at that point where they want to carry on working but at the minute they can’t.”

Victoria Lindsell, Matthew Bishop and one other protester were subsequently arrested.

A spokesperson from climate activism group Extinction Rebellion, which supports the action, called on the government to immediately scrap the project and instead invest in local services.

"HS2 is an express train service to climate and ecological disaster. HS2 will barely be carbon neutral in 120 years, lead to airport expansion and cause mass biodiversity loss," they told talkRADIO.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said a decision over the fate of HS2 will be delivered in the coming weeks.

The project has been the subject of criticism over its environmental impact as well as its spiralling cost, with the leaked government-commissioned Oakervee report suggesting the final bill could reach £106 billion – almost double what was initially allocated.

And the National Audit Office warned last week that it is impossible to "estimate with certainty what the final cost could be".

But Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay has said it is his gut feeling that HS2 should go ahead, describing the rail project as a "key part" of the government's "levelling up" agenda.

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