HS2 protesters launch ‘faeces and rockets’ at evictors – official

Treehouse protesters obstructing HS2 construction have attacked officials with “faeces and bird-scaring rockets” as they tried to evict them.

Tensions between environmental activists at Jones’ Hill Wood in Buckinghamshire and HS2 officials have escalated on the second day of evictions.

Thames Valley Police, who have been assisting evictors, made at least six arrests and charged two people in connection with the protest.

Evictions began on Thursday, but “around a dozen” protesters remained in makeshift treehouses when officials left for the evening, and stayed overnight throughout gale-force winds and lashing rain.

A bird-scaring rocket which HS2 officials say environmental protesters launched at them from treehouses during the second day of evictions from Jones' Hill Wood in Buckinghamshire (HS2 Limited/PA).
A bird-scaring rocket which HS2 officials say environmental protesters launched at them from treehouses during the second day of evictions from Jones' Hill Wood in Buckinghamshire (HS2 Limited/PA).

A HS2 official said the protest turned “dangerous” when evictions resumed on Friday and an activist still in his treehouse said he was worried about being removed by one official who he said has a “history of violence at previous protests”.

A HS2 spokesperson told the PA news agency: “The actions of these protesters, many of whom are breaching their bail conditions, is unlawful and violent, they have been throwing paint pots, tins of soups, smoke bombs, bird scaring rockets, urine and faeces at the eviction team, causing a dangerous situation for everyone involved.

“Paint has also been thrown over the woodland floor, damaging the environment and destroying the soil that HS2 was planning to translocate.

“HS2 is happening with construction well under way, there are 10,000 people already working on the project and we recently announced a further 22,000 jobs across the country at a time when it needs them most.

“Only 0.29 square kilometres of ancient woodland is being lost across the entire Phase One route, with over 33 square kilometres of new woodland and wildlife habitats being created as part of our plan to create a green corridor of richer, more diverse and better-connected landscapes along the railway.”

It is unclear how many or which protesters were involved in throwing items at officials.

Green Party councillor for West Berkshire Council, Steve Masters, 50, is the oldest demonstrator to have stayed up in the trees overnight, and said on Friday he was worried about a “violent” evictor.

HS2 protest
HS2 protest

Mr Masters, who has been arrested for obstructing HS2 construction at two other sites, told the PA news agency said he is “quite concerned” about an evictor who he said “has a track record of violence towards protesters”.

The councillor, who is a former RAF aircraft engineer, has been camping in the wood every night for the last three months, and he helped two more protesters join his treehouse on Thursday night to ramp up the protest after the first day of evictions.

The activist said he is passionate about the cause because he wants his three grandchildren to “grow up safe from the effects of climate change” which he believes “will not happen if projects like HS2 are going ahead”.

“I won’t be walking out of this wood, they will have to force and carry me out. I’m even prepared to go to prison,” he said.

Ross, another protester, claimed he was in a treehouse with three others when officials slashed it with a knife, and threw a punch at an activist.

Thames Valley Police said they have made six arrests in connection with the protest, and two people have been charged with offences.

“Our role is to ensure public safety, and facilitate a peaceful protest while at the same time ensuring HS2 Ltd’s legal rights to carry out their work”, a spokesperson for the force said.

Jack Hartcup, aged 30, of Cutler Way, Norwich, has been charged with breaching bail conditions, and Toni Bingham, aged 32, of Goldsmith Walk, Lincoln, was charged with breach of bail conditions and committing an offence under the Trades Union and Labour Relations Act.

Both have been remanded in custody on Friday to appear at Reading Magistrates’ Court the same day.