Just when I’m thinking the remaining anti HS2 protesters can’t make themselves any more ridiculous with their outlandish claims and piss-poor performances, they say “hold my beer” (shouldn’t that be ‘cheap cider’? Ed)…
The latest, almost Pythonesque, farce at Denham Country Park started in the early hours of Monday morning when the protesters erected a bamboo and rope tower in the river in order to stop contractors working for National Grid from running out a temporary bridge across it. Thinking themselves terribly cunning, they arranged for an old 1990s roads protest ‘star’ – Daniel Hooper, (better known as ‘Swampy’) – to perch in the structure as a way of attracting the media attention they desperately crave. Sadly for the protesters their plan wasn’t that ‘cunning’ at all. What they seemed to have overlooked is that ‘Swampy’ is famous for failing to stop anything. He failed at Twyford Down in the 90s and more recently at Jones’ Hill wood earlier this year. He maintained that record today!
Despite the protesters claims that they’d built the ‘beacon’ (as they pompously called it) in secrecy, the contractors and security staff just ‘happened’ to have a long reach elevated work platform on-hire on the opposite bank of the river. This morning contractors, security and police swooped and ‘Swampy’ was taken down and arrested by lunchtime – much to the obvious chagrin of the protesters who’d been boasting this stunt was going to ‘stop’ HS2! As usual, the event played out on social media. The protesters had shaken every bush and tree for miles to get bodies there and still only managed to attract a handful who posed no threat to the large numbers of security and police who were in attendance. The mix of middle-class Nimbys, crusty ‘eco-warriors’ and waifs and strays more interested in getting pissed on cheap cider was a sight to behold! Here’s a few screen-grabs from Twitter and Facebook to give you a flavour.
Early on HS2Rebellion posted this preposterous hostage to fortune…
Here’s where the protesters plans all started to go a bit ‘Pete Tong’ as the handy elevated platform swung into action!
This one is particularly hilarious! This is almost Trumpian in its pretense that black is white and that this shambolic effort was actually a ‘victory’, but then ole ‘Boots’ is from the USA…
If you want to grab some popcorn and watch the farce play out you can find it on the Denham ‘protection’ camp Facebook Page. I’d recommend doing it with the sound turned off/down as the commentaries range from the profane to the inane – along with lashings of propaganda. My ‘Bullshit bingo’ card filled up in a few minutes as all the buzz words were wheeled out in quick succession. “Ecocide”? Tick, “Illegal”? Check. “Assaulted”? Got it! “Polluting Aquifers”, Yep!
Meanwhile, just a few miles down the road, the final fleet of the 300 lorries bringing the two tunnel boring machines (TBMs) from Germany that would be digging the Chiltern tunnels had already arrived unopposed!
Somehow, I don’t think there’s going to be much carousing around the campfires in the remaining ‘protection’ camps tonight – unlike the worksite canteens where the HS2 contractors will be having a warm and looking forward to the overtime payments appearing in their pay-packets!
As more and more protesters give up and head off home or other causes (knowing this one’s lost) I wonder how much longer this farce will drag out? After all, there’s only going to be one outcome – despite what certain deluded Americans try and claim!
Meanwhile, I’ve a favour to ask…
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And then we had the comments on the HS2 Rebellion page, since deleted, stating that the presence of the protesters at Denham had basically killed off that section of the river completely due to them washing themselves and their belongings in it and also due to the run off from the Camp. Fortunately I have screenshots and it tells a story indeed.
Paul Bigland said:
Hi Phil, Yes. I made a point of screen-shotting those too. If I’d had time I was going to add them to this blog. Instead they’ll be part 2!
You do have to wonder what other damage they have done wherever they turf up. You can bet no ecological surveys or mitigation has been put in place by the protestors prior to them moving in, the question is did they themselves break the law by failing to do so??
Taking Jones Hill Wood as an example I’m betting that if any bats were present they are long gone so the protestors have themselves cleared the wood for HS2. Had HS2 been left to get on with it proper mitigation could have been put in place very successfully.
Seeing the turnabout from “he’s there for the long haul” to “good job” as they carry him off after just one day was interesting in that the protesters seemed to go through the stages of grief quite quickly, including a run on the security line. Even a few HS2R supporters were turned off by that behaviour.
Clive Higgins said:
Oh dear Paul, you let your rather quaint nostalgic enthusiasm for railways get in the way of good journalism.
In 1995 I owned an estate near Newbury, rather nice one laid out by Capability Brown complete with Grade 1 Mansion. Then someone decided it would be a good thing if the proposed Newbury by pass went through its 139 acres, instead of the far more logical route along side the industrial area of Newbury at Thatcham.
The initial designs were typical of the period, a sterile slash across the countryside with not the smallest attempt at any form of genuine mitigation.
Then a group including one Daniel Hooper turned up.
The local landowners supported those that questioned the nihilistic proposal and design of the by pass, so the Government of the day was forced to implement the landscaping and massive tree planting that you see today on the A34 as you pass around Newbury
So, Paul, you and your sponsor, are very very wrong, peaceful protest does change things. Swampy / Daniel Hoopers legacy can be seen by all motorists on the A34
Are the objectors all chapel going, teetotaller pillars of the community, no of course they are not, well I dont drink any alcohol so perhaps I am but then unlike you I do not appear on the barricades. (I do hope you are getting the appropriate model releases for the pictures used commercially)
Paul Bigland said:
You give Hooper far too much credit as you don’t seem very aware of how planning systems work – and certainly not Hybrid Bills, which are Acts of Parliament. No matter, Hooper is a throwback to the past who was best left there. His impact on HS2 is laughable. The world has moved on since 1995 – as have environmental concerns and the laws surrounding them – although it’s clear some landowners still see fit to ignore them – as we’ve seen on the River Lugg recently. HS2 doesn’t have that luxury, but railways always did suffer from Nimby landowners imposing extra costs on them either to make money or because they didn’t want sight of those ‘nasty’ trains full of ordinary people.
As for ‘model releases’, I see you’re just as in touch with journalistic freedoms as you are with modern Environmental Impact Assessments. Enjoy watching HS2 being built.
I see that Baroness Jones amendment 10 was withdrawn, and she made such a fuss about it. In fact of the 17 amendments only two got through, one on consultation and another on reporting of impacts on Ancient Woodlands, neither of which will stop the Act even if they are accepted in the Commons by Government.