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West Berkshire councillor back in the treetops as he renews protest against HS2

Green Party activist Steve Masters says he is 'duty bound to protect the people of this country'

Dan Cooper

Dan Cooper

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Councillor back in the treetops as he renews protest against HS2

“I am duty bound to continue to protect the people of this country and the world and as the chainsaws whine around me I am resolute and determined to fight for a future fit for my grandchildren.”

Those were the words from West Berkshire councillor and Green Party climate change activist Steve Masters as he returned to the woods that are being destroyed to make way for the controversial HS2 high-speed rail project.

Just 72 hours after he and other activists were evicted from Jones Hill Wood in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Mr Masters sneaked back in and climbed a 60ft beech tree.

Mr Masters has been living in the woods for the past three months. He is one of eight activists who remain at the woods – and they have vowed to stay in the trees despite pressure from the National Eviction Team, dwindling resources and the effects of the recent heavy rain.

One of the activists is Swampy, who was famous for his part in the Newbury Bypass protests back in the 1990s.

Mr Masters said: “It is great to be back to support the fight from the trees.

“The police have given us a couple of warnings, but we told them the eviction was unlawful and they have left us alone for the last couple of days.”

Mr Masters has twice been arrested for protesting and even said he was willing to be imprisoned in order to highlight the “catastrophic damage HS2 will do to our natural environment”.

He said: “I am a public official and I have followed a path of public service throughout my life. This began 34 years ago when I joined the Royal Air Force.

“I am duty bound to continue to protect the people of this country and the world.

“Our Prime Minister pledged to protect the biodiversity of the planet while continuing to support this destructive and unnecessary rail link.

“HS2 is a project that impacts us all. The grotesque cost will be felt for years to come, at the expense of essential services such as the NHS and adult social care.

Mr Masters said activists saw a large show of force from employees of HS2 as the eviction process got under way last week.

Mr Masters said: “All I had left was my laptop and the clothes I had on my back. They literally tore down my treehouse from around me.”

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Article comments

  • Exhausted

    09/10/2020 - 09:39

    HS2 aims to be one of the most environmentally responsible infrastructure projects in the UK. HS2 have committed to provide a range of tailored measures to compensate for its impacts, for example, planting more than 7 million new trees and shrubs and creating more than 900 hectares (ha) of new native woodland. At least 400Km of hedgerows will be created or translocated. On top of this £7M has been committed in establishing the HS2 Woodland Fund, helping landowners within 25 miles of the railway to create and restore woodland. Of this the first £1.6M has already been allocated, supporting around 115ha of new native woodland and around 160ha of plantations on ancient woodland sites.

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  • Exhausted

    09/10/2020 - 09:27

    Good social distancing here!! Rule of six???

    Reply

  • CommonHungerforder

    09/10/2020 - 01:01

    If I ever will see you in Newbury. I'm going to kick you in between the legs, until my leg falls off. Think, Derek & Clive. But you have damaged that tree, the irony. "The grotesque cost". You maybe the person who needs to take on SARS-CoV-2 as that is costing more. "Mr Masters said: “All I had left was my laptop and the clothes I had on my back. They literally tore down my treehouse from around me.”" And I would have kept on kicking, sawn a branch off carefully and shoved it up where the sun don't shine, then make you lick it clean. HS2 is happening, too much invested to cancel it for a w-anchor like you. Get back home and sort out Newbury. But you have a laptop that gets charged, and a phone, and some clothes. Ooh, my leg wants to fall off. Then you somehow have money and food. And YOU represent people of West Berkshire? Oh, I cannot wait to meet you. Conclusion you do not want to hear is, just stay in the tree forever you nonce, with no support.

    Reply

  • DonCossack

    08/10/2020 - 15:36

    The irony is that he's hindering the people rather than helping them. All he's doing is helping some trees. That railway will be far more valuable to the people than the trees he's strapping himself to.

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