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Young conscientious protector faces prison for defending ancient woodland from destruction by HS2 project

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  • At a hearing listed for this Thursday and Friday, 30th and 31st July, at 10 am at Birmingham High Court, a 22-year-old earth protector Elliott Cuciurean, could be jailed for protecting ancient woodland from destruction by the Government’s High Speed Rail project.
  • In an unprecedented move, HS2 Ltd and the Government have submitted an application to commit the young peaceful protector to prison for an alleged breach of an anti-trespass injunction around woodland in Warwickshire.
  • HS2 Rebellion condemn this draconian move by the Government to criminalise peaceful protest against HS2 – the most expensive and environmentally destructive infrastructure project in the UK’s history. 
  • Robert Lizar solicitors, representing Elliott, will raise grave concerns with the high court about the unjust nature of the injunction: failure to properly serve the injunction, constantly shifting boundaries and unreasonable aggression towards protesters by HS2 enforcement officers.

The young environmental defender, Elliott Cuciurean, is facing imprisonment for the alleged breach of an anti trespass injunction around irreplaceable ancient woodlands in Warwickshire, being destroyed by HS2 in nesting season.

HS2 Ltd, a Government funded company, along with the government itself are using the powers at their disposal to single out this young conscientious protector, driven to protect ancient woodland, our environment and our futures in the Climate and Ecological Emergency we all face.

This is the first time HS2 Ltd have threatened imprisonment by applying for committal of a protester rather than the usual criminal law system, which would normally carry financial consequences. This is an aggressive and extreme step by HS2 Ltd, which smacks of desperation as public opinion mounts against the project.

They have targeted the young defender, one of many environmental protectors calling for the destructive HS2 project to be stopped. Mr Cuciurean allegedly entered injuncted land at Crackley Wood, Warwickshire, where ancient woodland was being felled to make way for HS2. 

The injunction was brought into force on March 26th 2020 covering vast areas of land surrounding ancient woodlands including Crackley Woods, in Warwickshire. HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport gained the injunction to prevent environmental protectors from entering the land, thereby making it easier for HS2 to clear unlawfully during bird nesting, badger breeding and bat maternity season, without public scrutiny.

Despite condemnations from Britain’s leading environmental organisations including the Woodland Trust and RSPB, HS2 has pressed on with clearing hundreds of trees in irreplaceable woodlands flouting environmental laws as they go. 

Statement from Robert Lizar solicitors, representing Elliott: 

“HS2 and the Government have applied for our client, a 22-year-old environmental activist, to be committed for breach of an anti-trespass injunction relating to an area of ancient woodlands at Crackley Wood which is currently being demolished to make way for HS2. Elliott Cuciurean’s case is the first where HS2 have applied for a committal of a protester. Our client has been singled out amongst many other activists on the site. Unusually, rather than just applying for contempt of court, HS2 and the Government have specifically applied for our client to be committed immediately to prison. 

“We have grave concerns that HS2 enforcement officers failed properly to serve the injunction, constantly shifted the boundaries on the site and then effectively entrapped protesters by moving fences around them and behaved violently towards protesters without justification. We will be raising these issues with the High Court on Thursday and Friday.”

Statement from HS2 Rebellion:  “We are shocked and disturbed that the Government and HS2 are taking this unprecedented step, targeting a young peaceful protector and seeking to take away his liberty, for defending precious woodland. In attempting to imprison a conscientious protector for allegedly breaching an injunction, HS2 Ltd have effectively paid for a private law. HS2 took the opportunity of lockdown and the media being focused on the battle against COVID 19 to expedite their destructive works.

“We have the human right to protest and have been conscientiously protecting and upholding our natural heritage, our biodiversity and our wildlife laws and highlighting HS2’s acts of ecocide, because the Government is utterly failing to do so.

“The government, in its refusal to rethink HS2 or to listen to the will of the people, are  negligent again in their duty to protect the best interests of the people they serve, particularly when the masses are crying out for meaningful action to tackle the climate emergency.”

Elliott Cuciurean said:In the midst of a Climate and Ecological Emergency, ploughing ahead with HS2 is the most barbaric use of our time, energy, and resources. Ancient woodland is irreplaceable and watching it being decimated for an unjustifiable project is traumatic. We need this wild land left unconcreted, to help soak up the water when the floods come, to provide shade in the scorching sun, and to help support the web of life we are part of. So many see this land purely as a construction site with the potential to make them rich, but these trees create the air we breathe and without them we are in serious trouble.”

Notes to Editors:

The hearing will not be open to the public but will be accessible by Skype for press for information on how to join, please contact or call the numbers below
For updates, please join our journalist WhatsApp groups – to be added and for more information, contact 07969 083 371/ 07734 110 404

About HS2 Rebellion

HS2 Rebellion is an alliance of various groups and individuals who have been campaigning against HS2 for years and some newer recruits, including; Stop HS2, Save Cubbington Woods, Crackley Woods Protection Camp,, Wendover Resistance Camp, Stopping HS2 Chilterns, Harvil Road Protection Camp, campaigners against HS2 and Extinction Rebellion.

HS2 Rebellion is independent of Extinction Rebellion (XR), and forms part of a wider movement of movements, similar to Animal Rebellion, Global Justice Rebellion and others.

About HS2

HS2 is the most expensive and environmentally destructive infrastructure project in UK history. HS2 is set to damage or destroy 108 ancient woodlands and almost 700 wildlife sites. As well as costing an estimated £200 billion, the high speed rail project is already causing extensive and irreversible damage to the environment. It will be a vast new source of carbon emissions for at least the next 120 years, as well as enabling mass airport expansion.

The controversial project is completely incompatible with the Government’s international obligations under the Paris Agreement as well as its legally binding commitment to achieve Net Zero emissions by 2050.   

The High Speed Rail project was promised to be a shining example of how modern infrastructure should be built. However, the budget is out of control and the project has fallen behind schedule.The troubled HS2 project has also recently been branded “unachievable” by the government’s own Infrastructure and Projects Authority.

Despite pleas from all the leading wildlife NGOs, contractors continue to fell in nesting season despite strict legal prohibition on the disturbing of nesting birds and attempt the translocation of ancient woodland soils during Spring/Summer – something which HS2 Ltd gave assurances that it would never do.  Ongoing work is being carried out without sufficient wildlife and environmental assessment, bat mitigation licences and without ecologists on site to monitor HS2’s work – another step in HS2’s lawbreaking-by-design approach to this project.

There is no need for HS2 in a post-Covid UK where people will be travelling less and working from home more.  The protection of our natural environment and the wildlife that depends on it should be front and centre of all future decision making as we cope with the Climate and Environmental Emergency.  

The UK Government must stop HS2 Ltd work immediately, stopping all ecocide, wildlife crime, seizing property & land, assaulting tree protectors and destruction of irreplaceable woodlands and other ecosystems.

The estimated £200 billion of taxpayers’ money should instead be used to fund the NHS, improve existing networks and local infrastructure, and adapt to the reality we face in this COVID-19 pandemic and Climate and Ecological Emergency.

This Post Has 21 Comments

  1. Anne Peplow

    This unusual and disproportionate action smacks of desperation. They know that it’s wrong and they are trying to silence anyone who bears witness to their illegal actions

    1. Ian whitehead

      Couple of lies there.
      1: the whole of HS2 uses up the same land as 15 miles of motorway. So every motorway in the country was more destructive
      2: you can still walk around crackley woods and you would have to go off the beaten path to find evidence of HS2

      1. Verel

        Hi Ian, have you visited the rest of the ancient woodlands that have been chopped down. It’s not just ancient woodlands, but hundreds of other woodlands as well that are not considered ancient. HS2 have also been clear 50m either side of the track. So it is 100m in total, equivalent to an 8 lane motorway.

  2. Teresa Oliver

    These people should be praised for their dedication and bravery,not persecuted and punished.They are standing up for what so many others believe,but do not have the courage or commitment to join them.

  3. friendoflarry

    HS2 is an evil project… the greed of the managers, tree fellers and security thugs is killing the future of their own families for shirt term cash. STOP THE DESTRUCTION of our UK RAINFOREST.

  4. friendoflarry

    STOP the HS2 insanity…. it is not being built in my name!

  5. mark stevenson

    This is ecocide and must be stopped, i am ashamed and disgusted by our government and HS2.

  6. Judy

    HS2 is breaking the law – not the protesters. A jail sentence for this protester would be a travesty of justice. How can protection of ancient trees and nest sites be illegal – and the destruction of same be legal?

  7. Shona Disguested

    HS2 are the criminals and the government for letting this money waiting scandal continue for a 15times save. Covid has proved many of us dont need to travel to work and those that do, lots will be on a 3 day week.

  8. Graham Mathieson

    Why would you do this to someone who is trying to protect us from these bullies? Please stop this ASAP or we will be willing Help fund his case.

  9. Mia Sewell

    This is outrageous. Why don’t our Government concentrate on more important/ dangerous criminal activities rather than dealing with soft targets

  10. Jo

    On one hand Borris is handing out £50 vouchers to get your bike fixed and on the other handing out a jail sentence for someone who is passionate about the environment and forward thinking enough to realise that HS2 is an abomination of our countryside and will lead in the end to more flooding and destruction. Wake up!! It’s not a failure to admit this is the wrong approach to take. I wish to say thank you to Elliott and the hundreds like him who are trying to save our planet.

  11. Leah Bull

    HS2 is breaking ecological law not some protester who cares about the world he lives in!! Felling trees in nesting season and interfering in bat mitigation is beyond appalling and everyone involved with this HS2 disaster should be ashamed and disgusted with them selves. The planet is dying because of people like this. I am sick to my stomach of peoples greed and ignorance regarding environmental issues. WAKE THE HELL UP..

  12. Kaye

    STOP HS2…

  13. S Craze

    This is true rape of our beautiful English countryside. A concentrated effort is needed by all organisations involved in the protection of birds, trees, bats and all wildlife, such as The Woodland Trust, English Heritage, National Trust, RSPCA. Unfortunately it appears that they are toothless in the face of this appalling trashing if our country. Most like minded people feel rather desperate and don’t know how to achieve their goal, ie: Stopping this destruction. What would it take to make this happen? Sending a young, sensitive young man to prison is not the right thing to do. Perhaps they do feel desperate.

  14. Cheryl

    Money and power . This world is so sad. How can we put a momentary value on our planet. Its been proved our planet is dying unless we save it. Don’t persecute people for loving their planet.

  15. Sandra haith

    I am shocked and disheartened at this decision. What is this country coming to? We have the right to peaceful protest. Hs2 Ltd just wants to make an example of someone at this early stage in order to deter further protests as the route progresses. What other way does the taxpayer have of making a point? The consultation results are ignored. Public polls are ignored. If the BBC reported such actions from abroad we would all be disgusted. It’s a pity the BBC dont support their own viewers. They just tow the government line, as do the police and the courts. I fear for our democracy.

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