Boris’ lockdown chopdown: HS2 Rebellion Bat Action calls out HS2 wildlife crimes

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  • HS2 Rebellion national day of Bat-themed Action is to highlight that HS2 is  permanently destroying thousands of potential bat roosts during roosting season
  • Early this morning environmental protesters blocked four HS2 compound entrances at Crackley and Broadwells Wood with more actions throughout the day from Euston to Warwickshire
  • The actions are designed to comply with COVID-19 safety guidelines and legislation, to which HS2 Ltd have failed to adhere
  • Chop-down in lockdown: Since the start of nesting season, HS2 Ltd have committed countless wildlife crimes by flouting wildlife laws, whilst felling hundreds of trees in ancient woodlands
  • HS2 have taken the opportunity of the country being on lockdown to ignore laws protecting wildlife whilst they cannot be scrutinised. 
  • The Government must scrap HS2 immediately, instead using taxpayers’ money to fund the NHS, improve existing networks and local infrastructure, and adapt to the reality we face in this COVID-19 pandemic and Climate and Ecological Emergency.

Today, Friday 29 May, HS2 Rebellion is holding a day of socially distanced synchronised bat actions along the HS2 line to highlight the thousands of potential bat roosts that are being permanently destroyed, and the subsequent death sentence for bats and other wildlife.  HS2 has cleared hundreds of trees during bird nesting and wildlife breeding season, flouting wildlife laws. Campaigners have witnessed HS2 ripping down trees with bat boxes and birds nests in them, then immediately chipping the evidence. 

The action locations are along the HS2 line – including Euston, Colne Valley in Uxbridge, Steeple Claydon and Wendover in Buckinghamshire, and Crackley and Broadwells woods in Warwickshire. There will be bat themed events; from families sharing drawings of endangered bats and wildlife to hang on trees, to people dressed as bats with banners saying: ‘Bat Massacre @ Broadwells by HS2’, ‘Habitat not HS2’, ‘NHSnotHS2’ – with some blocking HS2 compounds to delay the destructive work. The actions are designed to comply with COVID-19 safety measures and legislation.  HS2 Rebellion are calling for the government to stop HS2 and direct taxpayers’ money to the NHS and prioritise health and the environment. 

Matt Bishop, HS2 Save Cubbington and Crackley Woods StopHS2 Campaigner campaigner in the Midlands, said: “The worst wildlife crime in Warwickshire’s history is taking place now. HS2’s own bat survey confirms that the felling of trees in Broadwells Wood and Kenilworth sites will cause the permanent loss of 1,491 potential bat roosts of eight species of bat, all protected by law. Yet Natural England, charged with upholding that law, has allowed HS2 to be self-policing in accepting a statement from them that ‘no bats had been encountered during the works’, and has given the go ahead for HS2 to continue felling well into roosting season, while bats are still nursing their young.”  

The Government has decided to press on with HS2 in the midst of the covid-19 pandemic, and financial, ecological and climate crises – despite fierce public opposition and criticism from MPs, the Public Accounts Committee and Public Transport Committee.  Boris’ chop-down in lockdown makes a mockery of his claims to be committed to restoring nature and hitting net-zero greenhouse gases by 2050. HS2 fails both these objectives as it is adding to nature’s crisis and will take more than 120 years before its carbon net zero. While the nation has been locking down, and knowing fewer people would be around to witness or protest, HS2 Ltd are felling irreplaceable ancient woodlands as fast as possible, and putting all incriminating evidence through the shredder.

Britain’s leading environmental organisations, including the Woodland Trust and RSPB, have warned against felling trees in nesting and breeding season but HS2 Ltd have repeatedly ignored their advice and wildlife laws, while the nation and the media have been focused on the battle against COVID 19.

Joe Nunez-Mino, Director of Communication and Fundraising at the Bat Conservation Trust commented : “Reports we have been receiving about potential disturbance and damage to bat roosts in trees during the maternity season is a cause for concern for BCT. We are investigating the matter as protecting maternity roosts from disturbance at this sensitive time of the year is particularly important.”

Details for each location

Crackley and Broadwells woods in Warwickshire, all day – this morning a self-distancing colony of ‘bats’ descended on HS2 compounds, blocking entrances to delay work, and to highlight the HS2’s bat massacre. This follows a week of outreach, where people brought drawings of bats and wildlife to hang on trees.

Euston, London, 12pm – In Euston, where trees are due to be felled for the HS2 terminal, local residents and families are invited to come at midday in household bubbles, keeping two metres apart, and attach drawings of their favourite endangered tree or animal to the scarves already tied around trees marked for destruction. They will also be able to take their daily exercise to the accompaniment of a samba band.

Wendover Active Resistance Camp, Buckhamshire, 2pm – Environmental campaigners will raise awareness with banners and bat costumes, outside Rose Hill Barn, a known bat habitat due to be destroyed by HS2 – and there will be an opportunity to try the bat monitoring equipment used to gather evidence of bat life. 

Steeple Claydon, Buckinghamshire, 2pm – Local families will gather, in costume, with banners and small bats to hang in the trees with messages for passersby and the HS2 workers.

Colne Valley, Uxbridge – Environmental protectors in costume will be protesting around HS2 compounds to raise awareness. Update will be sent later in the day.

Bat populations in the UK declined significantly in the 20th century, with some of the country’s 17 species – such as the already critically endangered Bechstein’s bat – further threatened by HS2 Ltd works.  Bats and their roosts are protected by law and maternity roosts in the summer are particularly important HS2 Ltd have applied for permission through mitigation licenses, yet, as stated by the RSPB, their mitigation methods won’t work in time to ensure the conservation of affected bats, newly planted hedgerow and trees ate not are suitable replacement for the old trees that the Bechstein’s bat would roost in.

HS2 Ltd does not have a reliable history in mitigation or carrying out ecological assessments. In the past, their reports have claimed wildlife is not present, when in fact the woodlands they are set on destroying are teeming with life. They also broke the terms of their badger mitigation licence by allowing construction works to continue for more than six weeks next to a huge badger sett in Broadwells Wood, Warwickshire. Natural England refused to send out field officers during the pandemic, so there has been no official scrutiny of HS2 works. Campaigners remain at all camps to bear witness to HS2 wildlife crimes.  

HS2 Ltd are being taken to court by wildlife TV presenter and conservationist, Chris Packham CBE, supported by evidence from the RSPB and the Woodland Trust and campaigners on the ground. The Court of Appeal has recently granted a hearing to decide if a full Judicial Review of the government’s decision to give the go-ahead to the controversial rail project will proceed. One of the reasons for this hearing is due to, ‘the considerable public interest in the case’.

Ends

Notes to Editors

HS2 Rebellion is an alliance of various groups and individuals who have been campaigning against HS2 for years and some newer recruits, including; StopHS2, Save Cubbington Woods, Crackley Woods protection camp, Wendover resistance camp, Harvil Road Protection camp and Extinction Rebellion.

For rolling updates, photos, videos, interviews and quotes throughout the day, please join our journalist  WhatsApp groups – to be added, contact 07969 083 371

For more details on the wildlife situation in Kenilworth please contact +44 7986 773722

Alongside the Bat Action day, an online and telephone campaign is targeting the Government, HS2 Ltd and their various subcontractors with comments and complaints.

About HS2 Rebellion

HS2 Rebellion is an alliance of various groups and individuals who are campaigning against HS2, including StopHS2, Save Cubbington Woods, Crackley Woods protection camp, Wendover resistance camp, Harvil Road Protection camp and Extinction Rebellion. It is entirely distinct from Extinction Rebellion, which has sworn off actions for the duration of the Coronavirus lockdown, but does form part of the Movement of Movements, alongside other sister groups like Wildlife Rebellion, Animal Rebellion and Global Justice Rebellion. 

This people-powered campaign has been formed to stop  the ongoing corruption, deceit and devastation of HS2 Ltd. Lives are being threatened, laws flouted and precious ecosystems are being destroyed while the country is in lockdown due to the COVID-19 crisis, a time when the nation is worried and distracted, and widespread protest is difficult. To make matters worse, these crimes against democracy, decency and nature are being committed during bird and bat nesting season. As The Woodland Trust recently pointed out, the areas where HS2 work continues apace are facing ‘imminent death’ at exactly the time they should be ‘bursting into life’. 

We cannot stand by and watch this happen. As the NHS goes underfunded, money is being burnt and ancient trees are being torn down, we are rising up.

About HS2

HS2 is the most expensive and environmentally destructive infrastructure project in UK history. HS2 is set to destroy 108 ancient woodlands and almost 700 wildlife sites. As well as costing the UK tax payer well over £200 billion, the high speed rail project is already causing extensive and irreversible damage to the environment and will be a vast new source of carbon emissions for at least the next 120 years, as well as enabling mass airport expansion. 

HS2 Ltd has repeatedly failed to produce a Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment, despite this being a legal requirement.

The Government must scrap HS2 immediately, instead using the money to improve and invest in the NHS, and in local services and projects that adapt to the reality we face in this COVID-19 pandemic and  Climate and Ecological Emergency.

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