HS2 protesters shall not be moved - The Leamington Observer

HS2 protesters shall not be moved

HS2 protesters camping in Cubbington and Crackley Woods say they will not be moved.

Campaigners are camping in Kenilworth’s ancient woods to stop contractors from the high speed line development from removing trees.

HS2 has said it will delay work in Warwickshire until early 2020 on sites including both South Cubbington Wood and Crackley Wood while a review into the controversial line is undertaken.

The review looks set to be completed later this year.

But protesters say they do not trust the rail firm and are continuing to camp in the woods in shifts.

And until recently, the group in Cubbington remained concerned bailiffs would turn up and dismantle the camp.

But Kenilworth MP Jeremy Wright – who has been supportive of campaigners against the rail line – stepped in and confirmed no court order had been sought to evict the camp.

He told the Observer: “It seems to me if no removal works will now be done in the woods before the end of the year, as it has now been accepted will be the case following representations from me and others, the urgency of removing protesters from the woods has diminished considerably.”

A protester said it was a relief for worried campers.

He said: “It’s good news for the people in the camp. They’re not hardcore protesters just ordinary residents in south Warwickshire.

“The idea of being carried out by the bailiffs was very worrying so the news is a welcome relief.”

The campers have no plans to move just yet and say they believe contractors would continue works if they were not there.

The protester told the Observer he believed HS2’s definition of no work was questionable as he claims to have seen men in tree climbing gear carrying out jobs at the site.

But HS2 has reiterated it has committed to ‘not removing ancient woodlands’.

A spokeswoman said: “As highlighted by the secretary of state, we must strike a sensible balance between keeping the programme on track, and recognising that some works cannot be undone.

“We have assessed 11 ancient woodlands, parts of which were due to be affected by preparations to build Britain’s new high speed railway this autumn, during the period of the review.

“Work will now be deferred to autumn or winter 2020 on five of these sites, and to early 2020 on six of the sites, including South Cubbington Wood and Crackley Wood. We will also take measures to protect wildlife to ensure they are not affected when work begins in early 2020.”

The measures include the ‘localised removal of selected tree branches’.

The protester added: “It is a failure of democracy to try and bulldoze through the campsite for something nobody wants.

“HS2 represents one of the worst acts of government in British history. What people don’t realise is they don’t have to put up with this.

“We should be trying to go forward as a community. With increasing human problems of mental health and alienation we need to support people. Not destroy those areas where people find peace.”

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