A major rail project in the UK has won a High Court injunction that restricts people from protesting along its route.

HS2 Ltd has today (Tuesday, September 20) won a High Court injunction which restricts people’s right to peacefully protest, the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) has warned.

The route-wide injunction makes it a criminal offence for anyone to enter what the company calls “HS2 land” or delay its operations.

It also criminalises “slow walking in front of vehicles in the vicinity of the HS2 land.”

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The Wildlife Trust – which has long opposed the high-speed rail project because of the associated environmental damage – says the ruling threatens people’s right to peacefully protest the construction.

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.”

The Wildlife Trust has long opposed HS2, not least because of the impact on its nature reserves.

The rail company took possession of parts of the charity’s Calvert Jubilee reserve between Bicester and Buckingham in 2020 to facilitate the construction.

Its nearby Finemere Wood reserve is directly affected by the works, and staff and visitors also now have to cross land under HS2 possession to get into the trust’s Bacombe Hill reserve near Wendover.

Mr Stanton warned that HS2’s fencing in some areas is so poor that visitors to some of the trust’s nature reserves were able to freely wander onto “HS2 land” without realising it.

Should they now accidentally walk onto HS2 land they could find themselves facing criminal proceedings under the terms of the injunction.

The injunction also forbids people from obstructing or interfering with the movement of vehicles, equipment or people accessing ‘HS2 land’.

Mr Stanton concluded: “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 than 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.”


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This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Matthew.norman@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @OxMailMattN1

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