Kenilworth and Cubbington Stop HS2 protesters react to government's green light for the high-speed rail line

News of the approval of the controversial High Speed 2 (HS2) rail project has left stop HS2 campaigners sad and disappointed.

Tuesday, 11th February 2020, 9:52 am
Updated Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 11:58 am

The government gave the green light to the High Speed 2 rail project linking London to Birmingham, and then on to Manchester and Leeds.

HS2 is due to be completed by 2040. Supporters of the plan say it will improve transport times, create jobs and rebalance the UK's economy.

But Matt Bishop, the founder of the Stop HS2 camp in Cubbington Wood, said he has no plans to give up his stand to protect the ancient woodlands.

Matt said: "It's a sad day. Everybody has campaigned so hard against it. It's a sad day for the taxpayer. Its sad for our countryside, and a sad day for the ancient woodlands.

Matt organised a peaceful protest walk yesterday (Monday February 10) in Cubbington.

He said: "I was amazed at the turnout. I think we had about 100 to 120 people. It was a last minute call out to show a message to parliament that people don't want HS2."

The imminent decision for full approval of the project won't keep Stop HS2 campaigners from carrying on their mission to protect the endangered ancient woodlands.

Matt added: "Boris Johnson is now Mr HS2. He should be the one to come to the woodlands and cut down the first ancient then he'll know what he's doing.

"We're certainly not giving up. We're not leaving the camps. When the day comes HS2 officials will have to carry us out of the woods. The destruction of those woods will be witnessed by the nation."

Joe Rukin, the Stop HS2 Campaign Manager, “Giving HS2 the go-ahead on the back of the Oakervee Review, a review which was written by the people it was meant to be investigating, is saying none of the evidence matters, none of the facts matter, we’re going to do it for the sake of doing it.

"This is a decision from the bumbling, bungling Boris we feared we would get. HS2 will be Boris’ Big Blunder, it’s a shame he can’t see that.

“Since HS2 was first announced, the links to Heathrow and HS1 have been cut but the cost has still managed to treble. It’s now admitted that 18 trains per hour at the proposed speeds can’t be done, which is an admission that every argument for HS2, whether that be the business case, the service pattern and all the illusory promises of freed-up capacity have been a lie right from the start.

"The 250 mph design speed makes HS2 straight and wide so it threatens almost 700 habitat sites and over 100 ancient woodlands, and the concrete needed means it’ll only add to the climate crisis."

Kenilworth Town Cllr Richard Dickson called the news very sad.

He said: "It's sad for local residents, for our environment and for all the campaigners. I walked the route from Ladbroke, round Kenilworth to Burton Green in 2015, and it's dreadful to think what legacy we're passing to our children."Everybody knows the time to have stopped HS2 phase one was when the Hybrid Bill was first before Parliament in 2013.

Last week, The Wildlife Trusts delivered a letter to the Prime Minister calling for the project to be reappraised. The letter was signed by 66,000 people.

Nikki Williams, The Wildlife Trusts’ director of campaigns and policy, said: “Nature is paying too high a price for HS2. We urged the government to re-consider in the light of The Wildlife Trusts’ report which evidenced the serious risk that HS2 poses to nature – and to take notice of over 66,000 people who wrote to the Prime Minister asking him to review HS2.

"Today’s announcement means that it is more critical than ever that the whole project is redesigned – before HS2 creates a scar that can never heal. It is vital that HS2 does not devastate or destroy irreplaceable meadows, ancient woodlands and internationally important wetlands that are home to a huge range of wildlife, from barn owls to butterflies.

“As HS2 contractors get on with bulldozing and building, the public can help wildlife by being alert to works near them. Contact your local Wildlife Crime officer if you believe HS2 Ltd or contractors are undertaking works without permission. Wildlife Trusts along the route will continue to advise and engage with HS2 Ltd locally.”

Ed Green, CEO of Warwickshire Wildlife Trust said: “The potential damage from HS2 is too great - especially while we are facing a climate emergency. Green and sustainable transport is vital, but we won’t solve the climate crisis by making the biodiversity crisis worse.”

Fraser Pithie, a Kenilworth resident who is a features writer for The Railway Magazine and supports the project, said: "So what does HS2 deliver?

"Well, four new mainline railways for the price of one. Enabling thousands of more people onto trains and with a seat, because of the extra capacity HS2 releases on the existing network. This explodes the other nonsense too regularly served up 'HS2 does not benefit this area.'

"HS2 does deliver benefits across a large part of the UK rail network by enabling more passenger train services by releasing capacity to allow more trains to run on our existing national network.

"Let's get on and build HS2."