Environmental protesters have been barred from a West London HS2 construction site by a new injunction.
Preparation work on the site has been taking place since 2017, and the high court ruling comes just as the company announced the formal start to the project.
Protesters have been present at the site, raising concerns about the damage caused to ancient woodland and to animals, since October 2017.
The injunction ruling has also opened the doors for a trial to examine the issues related to the HS2 protests, rather than just allowing HS2 to continue applying for interim injunctions without ever having to go to trial.
The use of force in the evictions process was also a key issue in the trial. Paul Powlesland, a barrister representing one of the protestors, described security at the HS2 site as being ‘lawless thugs’. Protestors told the court that HS2 security even used sledgehammers in the eviction process.
One protestor, Elliott Cuciurean, told the court: “One of the security guards ended up driving a mile down the road with me on the windshield.”
Cuciurean also described receiving a third-degree burn to his thumb, and that he observed HS2 contractors assaulting others.
Deputy high court judge, David Holland QC, acknowledged that his ruling was a controversial one, but added that he was in no position to assess whether the National Eviction Team had used unreasonable force.
Holland also pointed out that even if unreasonable force had been used, it would not be a defence against the application of an injunction.
“It is good news that the court has decided that HS2 cannot continue to have an interim injunction lasting years into the future without actually having to go to a trial and substantiate the allegations it makes against the earth protectors who it has named in the injunction,” said Powlesland.
“However, it is deeply disappointing that the court held that even if HS2’s agents from the National Eviction Team have acted violently or even unlawfully, that would not be grounds to refuse them an injunction. It undermines the rule of law to have injunctions from the high court being enforced by those who hold themselves out to be high court enforcement officers, but who behave in a thuggish and lawless manner.”
A HS2 spokesperson said: “We are pleased that the injunction covering HS2 works at Harvil Road has been extended by the high court. These protests are a danger to the safety of the protesters, our staff and the general public, and put unnecessary strain on the emergency services.”
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