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I’ve always been amused by how little the ‘conservationists’ who’re opposed to HS2 actually know about the environment they’re supposedly so concerned about saving. In many cases this is because they’re using ‘green’ issues as a figleaf for the fact that really, they’re just Nimbys. Even the serial protesters of Extinction Rebellion (the ones who wander from cause to cause) seem to know bugger all about the natural world they’re allegedly trying to save. I had to chuckle at the fun and games at Denham, when the protesters claimed they were trying to save an ‘ancient’ Alder tree. A tree whose age kept increasing as the stories got wilder. First it was 400 years old, then 600. People who know anything about trees will know why I was giggling at the claims.

An even better one happened a couple of years ago after one of the local Buckinghamshire rags reported the moans of a local farmer who was complaining about Ragwort growing on land owned by HS2 as the plant could spread to his fields and ‘pollute’ his land, threatening his livestock who get upset tummies if Ragwort gets into their feed. Suitably outraged, some of the local Nimbys tried to get a group together via one of their Facebook pages with the intention of going out to pull up the ragwort! It took a real environmentalist to point out that would be illegal as Ragwort is a valuable native plant that’s a source of food for insects and butterflies!

It seems these people never learn, hence this weeks award. Step forward Caroline Thompson-Smith, the determined self-publicist and serial spreader of exaggerated nonsense who can normally be found at Calvert, near where she lives. Well, unless she’s breaking the Covid lockdown to travel to other protest camps, such as her spot of gratuitous self-publicity and filming at Euston the other month.

Caroline has produced another long video diatribe which has appeared on the HS2Rebellion Facebook page and features the latest failure of the protesters at the Poors Piece eviction near Calvert (but nowhere near HS2!). Here’s a screengrab.

Never let the truth get in the way of a good story eh, Caroline?

Her garbled story starts unravelling at 1’23” when she makes the claim that behind her contractors are felling Black Alder trees and that the Woodland Trust say the ‘Black Alder’ is one of the rarest trees in the UK with just 600 remaining, so HS2 contractors are felling 1% of the entire UK population! Wow – some claim! And a claim that rapidly unravels by 5’50” when Caroline forgets her original fairy story. Now it’s the Wildlife (not Woodland) Trust who claim the ‘Black Alder’ is rare. So rare the number has shrunk from 600 to 6 in the space of 4 minutes!

So, what’s the truth here? As usual, just a few minutes searching on Google and Caroline’s claims are in tatters. Here’s what the Woodland Trust REALLY say about the Black Alder. Yep, you’ve guessed it – the ‘black’ Alder is just another name for the Alder tree – and it’s also called the Common Alder – because it’s not rare at all! Nor is it a particularly long-lived species, which is why I was giggling last year at the claims about ‘ancient’ Alders!

There’s more on the Alder here from Wikipedia which reveals that the Alder is on the ‘least threatened’ list.

Of course some viewers of Caroline’s nonsense clearly just lap this stuff up. Gullible isn’t the word here. You could literally sell them anything. Listening to people like Caroline you’d think it was Genghis Khan and the Mongol hordes sweeping across the Chilterns, raping, pillaging and laying waste to the countryside in their wake – not a company building a railway who have to abide by legally-binding environmental protocols and laws and who are subject to strict oversight by a whole host of agencies.

Still, never let the truth get in the way of a good story, eh?

2023 update.

The Poors Piece eviction wasn’t stopped by Caroline or anyone else. The trees that had grown up along the course of E-W rail (not HS2 as the wood’s nowhere near) were removed and the rest of the wood remains intact – although polluted by the remains of the abandoned protest camp which was left to rot by its occupants.

Caroline continues to rant about HS2 but on a much reduced basis as it’s painfully obvious to all but the most blinkered that construction of HS2, the maintenance depot and E-W rail is unstoppable with the work at a very advanced stage that expands as each day passes.

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