This week the High Court in Birmingham heard HS2 Ltd’s application to commit seven activists for breaching an injunction in place over land in Swynnerton, Staffordshire.
This included four individuals who spent 46 days in what HS2 describes as “dangerous, makeshift tunnels” under the land. The Judge ruled that all of the individuals breached the injunction.
Protestors left tunnels after what the press thought at the time was 47 days underground. They made this decision, the BBC said, after exhausting their supplies.
In all, about 40 people had been living at a protest site in Swynnerton when evictions began in May, with some then retreating into tunnels, reports at the time said.
The BBC reports that the protestors had been demonstrating against plans to cut down trees for the HS2 project.
HS2 has said that it is creating new wildlife habitats and planting thousands of trees along the phase one route.
At the time, HS2 told reporters it had been monitoring air quality in the tunnels and supplying oxygen as a safety precaution.
Undertakings agreed by HS2 were given to the Court by two of the defendants, under which they are now prohibited from trespassing on any HS2 land and interfering with the project.
Yesterday four of the remaining five defendants (including three of the tunnellers) were fined and received custodial sentences for their breaches.
Judge said that the breaches were serious, life-threatening, dangerous and deliberate, and designed to – and did – cause real harm to HS2 and the taxpayer.
Two of the defendants were given an immediate and significant custodial sentence, and two were given significant custodial sentences suspended for two years on condition that they do not enter HS2 land or interfere with the project.
Responding to the Judgement a spokesperson for HS2 Ltd said: “The unlawful actions of these activists put themselves, the public and our staff at risk, and diverted the emergency services from other important work, as well as incurring significant and unnecessary cost to the taxpayer. The sanctions imposed by the Court this week reflect the seriousness of the breaches committed, and demonstrate the consequences of engaging in such unlawful and dangerous activity.
“HS2 Ltd would urge everyone who cares about our natural environment to support a project that is providing work for tens of thousands of people across the UK today, and in the future will get people out of cars, off planes and onto zero carbon rail travel.”