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Rob’s Ramblings
Eviction of environmental protesters
Rob Maylin
Bountyhunter Publications
44 Herbs End, Cove, Hampshire
GU14 9YD
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Rob Maylin
Also available this month,
Big Carp Issue 283.
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HS2 has begun evicting a group of environmental protesters who have been living at a
camp along the route of the rail project for more than two years.
Dozens of police and bailis are at the Harvil Road site in the Colne Valley, in the London
borough of Hillingdon. The protesters are opposing the eviction and claim HS2 and the
bailis are acting unlawfully as they have not served the demonstrators with high court
eviction notices ordering them to vacate the land.
Three protesters have been arrested at the camp, which was established in October
2017. Since then, groups of environmental protesters, many from the Green party and
Extinction Rebellion, have been a permanent presence on the site, monitoring HS2’s
work and documenting what they say is the destruction of ora and fauna. Opponents of
HS2 have pointed to its spiralling costs and the destruction of trees and wildlife to make
way for the rail line.
The Colne Valley nature reserve is home to a variety of fauna and ora including bats,
owls and osprey. Protesters claim that piledriving into an aquifer (an underground layer
of waterbearing permeable rock) on the site, which supplies almost a quarter of
London’s water, will cause serious damage to this water supply. HS2 denies there will be
any damage. A report from Lord Berkeley, a dissenting member of a panel reviewing the
HS2 project, claims the costs are “completely out of control”. It is understood HS2 is
carrying out two dierent kinds of enforcement action on the Colne Valley site – one
based on a high court order obtained on 28 November granting it possession of a
particular part of the site, and the second based on the
HS2 act passed by parliament, which ocials say gives
them the right to obtain possession of the land from
which they are evicting protesters.
The site is in the Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner
constituency of the Conservative MP David Simmonds.
The constituencies of John McDonnell and Boris Johnson
are in the same borough. There are ve antiHS2 protest
camps along the rail route. Protesters fear that if the
Colne Valley camp is demolished the others will follow.
Speaking at the site, Sarah Green, 63, said: “This
eviction is totally undermining our right to protest and
freedom of assembly which has been granted to us by
the high court. People are being made homeless without
being given the opportunity to go to court to contest this
eviction.” Green and a second protester, Laura Hughes,
walked free from court last July after a prosecution
against them collapsed. Both had been charged with
aggravated trespass for protesting against HS2 work on the Colne Valley site.
A district judge, Deborah Wright, dismissed the case after she said it was not possible
to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the protesters were trespassing on land in the
possession of HS2.
Protesters involved in the eviction are questioning which parts of the site HS2 has
possession of. HS2 had previously admitted that a map it provided to the Crown
Prosecution Service outlining which part of the site was covered by a high court
injunction against protesters was incorrectly labelled. Various maps of land held by HS2
and the boundary of the high court injunction were submitted as part of the prosecution
case. However, there has been confusion about exactly what land was owned by HS2. A
high court ruling last November granted HS2 possession of part of a footpath on the
Colne Valley site but did not specically authorise it to gain possession of the area where
the protest camp is sited. A Hillingdon council spokeswoman said: “HS2 Ltd has used the
HS2 Act to compulsorily acquire and take possession of several parcels of land west of
Harvil Road, from the council. This was not a voluntary sale.”
A spokesman for HS2 said: “This is land that is legally possessed by HS2. Protests such
as this are costly to the taxpayer and are a threat to the security and safety of the public
and our workers.
“We understand people feel strongly about the project and that they want us to hear
their views, which is why we have numerous channels through which they can make their
feelings understood. Investment in a stateoftheart, highspeed line is critical for the
UK’s lowcarbon transport future, will provide muchneeded rail capacity up and down
the country, and is integral to rail projects in the north and Midlands which will help
rebalance the UK economy.”

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