Thu, 08 Oct 2020
“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.”