This morning the Government announced that it has Given the HS2 rail project ‘Notice to Proceed’ which is the final hurdle the project had to clear before the main civil engineering work begins. It’s been clear this was going to happen since February when the Government announced it was going ahead with HS2 after studying the Oakervee Review but the announcement removes the last vestiges of doubt and allows the joint ventures tasked with building HS2 to get spades in the ground.
It’s also the final nail in the coffin for the anti Hs2 ‘campaign’ (a term I use loosely). They’d run out of steam and ideas years ago but recent events like Brexit and now the economic damage from the Coronavirus only made HS2 more likely. Why? It’s a shovel-ready project that has massive cross party support. The boost it can give the UKs crippled economy is obvious to anyone who puts economics before dogma. Why on earth would the Government not go ahead? To say the debate about HS2 is dead and buried would be an understatement but there’s still a few who want to try and pretend otherwise. Of course, none of them can answer one simple question. It’s one they’ve ducked for years. How are you going to stop HS2?
The anti HS2 ‘campaign’ has been on life support for years. It’s been hanging on, wheezing away through press releases and the occasional rent-a-quote interview from Joe Rukin but most of the Nimbys who were their backbone have sold out, moved on and given up. This has been evident in the gradual decline in the number of people agitating on social media, or signing petitions (more of which later). Let’s remember, they’ve not had a national public gathering since 2013 or demonstration since 2014. All their ‘national’ groups have collapsed of faded away, as has their action group network, which has had nothing to do since the Phase 1 bill got such a stonking majority in Parliament in 2014 – 6 years ago. It’s been a downhill trajectory for them ever since, including in every general election – and there’s been a few of them!
So what’s left?
Well, Rukin’s still hanging around like a bad smell, mainly because he’s failed to find a proper job, despite years of looking. That said, StopHs2 haven’t been heard from since March 25th until today, when Rukin issued the sort of moan that’s been his trademark for several years now. Apparently, according to Uncle Joe, the Government is “shamelessly opportunistic” in deciding to give HS2 notice to proceed as “there is next to no scrutiny taking place” due to the covid-19 lockdown.
No ‘scrutiny’? He’s having a laugh! Apart from the fact every MP on the route is having their ears bent by their local Nimby population, Rukin seems to have forgotten his friends at Extinction Rebellion! These ‘eco-warriors’ have bombarded social media and anyone they can think of with hundreds of hours of tedious videos recorded on their smartphones as they ignore the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. Hs2 staff can’t even fart without some useless protestor catching it on video and screaming that it’s ‘ecocide’ or a ‘wildlife crime’ or that the workers are breaking the social distancing guidelines!
Extinction Rebellion are now the frontrunners in the opposition to HS2 – which isn’t really saying much as they’ve been as spectacularly useless on the ground as StopHs2 have been on the political front and the likes of Chris Packham and his Solicitors, ‘Pay Day’ have been in the courts (Don’t you mean Leigh Day? Ed). XR arrived on the scene a while ago and have an impressive 100% failure rate, despite all their exaggerated claims. Having failed to stop any work at Harvil Rd near London or anywhere in the Chilterns they set up camp at Crackley Wood in Warwickshire just before the lockdown.
Long on bluster and vapid rhetoric but short on numbers (there’s only a couple of dozen of them) they promised their social media voyeurs that they were going to ‘save’ the woods and stop HS2 in its tracks. Needless to say, they’ve done no such thing. Outnumbered and outwitted by the National Eviction Team and HS2 security staff time and time again they’ve become increasingly shrill as their bluster has been exposed (often by their own videos!). They managed to get less than a dozen people into trees in both Crackley and Broadwell woods. They lasted but a few days before NET officers had them down. What was funny was seeing one of the tree protesters boasting on social media about how the woods were ‘theirs’ the day before he was unceremoniously hauled down and arrested! He was arrogant enough to assume that the fact NET were biding their time before evicting them meant they’d won. So, NET:11 – Extinction Rebellion: 0! To add to their woes, those arrested are now having bail conditions set that mean they have to leave Warwickshire and go home. For some of them this is tears at bedtime stuff. It’s like a kid being grounded and screaming ‘it’s not fair!’. Welcome to the adult world, where your imaginary ‘people’s courts’ don’t set the rules, the real authorities do.
Because of all this the ‘eco-warriors’ have become deflated very quickly. They’ve believed their own bluster and completely underestimated the sheer size of the HS2 project. This isn’t some little local bypass they’re trying to stop. This is the largest infrastructure project in Europe and the logistics behind it are gargantuan. You could see that realisation starting to sink in when contractors moved in to begin clearing a path through the edge of Crackley woods that HS2 will pass through. This wasn’t a few blokes with chainsaws, this was massive modern machinery that could clear a mature tree in a matter of minutes.
Of course, the other problem for the ‘eco-warriors’ is their inflated rhetoric. Many of them are hopelessly out of touch with the real world. Their heads are full of conspiracy theories and mouths with diatribes about capitalism. Their lack of knowledge of how the real world (rather than the one they’ve invented for themselves) works is bizarre. They bandy the words ‘illegal’ and ‘crime’ around like they’re going out of fashion, without an iota of self-awareness or realisation that, actually – they don’t make the laws and saying that something is ‘illegal’ doesn’t actually make it true. The old expression about ‘barrack-room lawyers’ springs to mind.
At worst, these people can be a nuisance to the early stages of HS2 as clearance work continues. But my prediction is that they’ll soon get bored and wander off to whatever’s the next bee in their bonnet. After all, there’s enough new roads being built, but they seem to ignore them for some mysterious reason. Oh, there’s another thing. XR grossly exaggerate their support. The latest doomed stophs2 petition on the Government website has produced some very interesting results so far. To give you an idea, here’s a map of signatures of their 2017 petition which closed after 6 months with less than 30,000 signatures. Look how you can trace the route of HS2 – both phase 1 and 2 – and look how nothing registers in quantity anywhere else.
Here’s how the latest petition stands at 18:00 on the 16th April. Notice a difference?
On the first petition it was very evident where HS2 went due to the number of people living on the route signing the petition. Not just on phase 1 either. There was one noticeable spot in Yorkshire on phase 2 (Hemsworth). Now look at the difference. Phase 2 of HS2 doesn’t even feature and only a handful of constituencies on phase 1 turn darker than yellow. Instead (bizarrely) you have constituencies like Stroud, Ceredigion (Mid Wales) and St Ives featuring – all those well known ‘hotbeds’ of anti HS2 activism? So why on earth…?
Because of Extinction Rebellion, that’s why. This is a map that shows where they obviously have active local groups. Well when I say ‘active’, let’s crunch some numbers. Here’s how many people in these areas have actually signed as of 16th April.
Mmm – so, a bunch of old (and young) hippies living miles away from the route are going to stop HS2? I think not… These areas will ring bells with anyone who remembers the ‘glory’ days of the counterculture. Whilst there’s no doubt many of these people have a genuine concern for the environment, they’re also a ragbag of conflicting beliefs, not all of which are savoury, or ‘enlightened’. There’s the usual anti capitalists, more than a few conspiracy theorists (chemtrails being a favourite) and – sad to say – an undercurrent of racism.
Here’s a Facebook post from Terry Sandison who is at the Crackley Wood camp. He regularly bombards social media with videos, but this is the other stuff he doesn’t generally share on the anti HS2 groups – for obvious reasons…
Sadly, this is not an isolated thing. Lizzie Williams, the founder of StopHs2 has gained herself a reputation for xenophobia and anti-Semitism following Tweets like this one from January 2018.
“My” country? Or there’s this one from earlier this year…
One thing the ‘greens’ have never noticed is just who they’re in bed with when it comes to opposing HS2. They’ve never asked themselves how on earth they can be on the same side as UKIP, the BNP, Britain First, the National Front and For Britain who all oppose HS2. Not to mention the likes of right-wing lobbyists the Institute of Economic Affairs and the Taxpayers Alliance. You’d think alarm bells would be going off all over the place, but no. The sad truth is there’s quite a few eco-fascists out there (Sorry Robin W, I know you hate me pointing that out).
Oh, there’s another weapons-grade hypocrisy about the Extinction Rebellion people. They keep banging on and on about HS2 site workers, bailiffs and the Police not ‘social distancing’ – without the slightest understanding of what the rules actually are. How in God’s name is any member of the police expected to arrest someone at a distance of 2 metres? Or a security guard prevent someone intent on causing disruption trespassing? To any sane person it’s obvious nonsense but it doesn’t stop them banging on and on whilst claiming they’re goody two-shoes and practising ‘self isolation’. Really? Allow me to introduce you to Ross Monaghan. Ross was at the Crackley Wood camp where he utterly failed to stop HS2 but he did a very good job of posting hours and hours of rambling video to Facebook and elsewhere. As if by magic, he’s now appeared in Jones Hill wood near Gt Missenden, where he’s recorded his latest video.
This is 68 miles away from Crackley Woods! Essential travel? Socially isolating? What a bunch of hypocrites! There’s more. This was posted on one of their facebook pages the other week by someone who wanted to break the Covid lockdown to travel from East Anglia to join the Crackley camp.
Notice no-one, including Lizzy Williams, tries to discourage him? Exactly the opposite in fact. It’s just another example of the utter hypocrisy from these people when they talk about HS2 workers and Covid-19. These people try to claim the moral high ground but their actions betray that. They only call on the law when it suits them.
Whichever way you cut it, the ‘campaign’ to stop HS2 has reached the end of the road. The grumbles may rumble on for a while and the ‘eco-warriors’ may make a nuisance of themselves for a bit, but that’s all. Now the main Civil Engineering contractors are mobilising and the project is entering the real construction phase. Now I’m looking forward to being able to focus more on the actual construction of HS2 rather than documenting the long history of failure of the campaign to Stop HS2! I’m sure the ‘eco-warriors’ will still feature occasionally whilst their daft antics continue, but the rest is history. We’ve taken a long time to get to this stage, but it’s finally here. The shovels are ready…