He’s back! UK eco-activist “Swampy” has joined the fight against HS2, the developers of a controversial high-speed train line running through rural England. The project has been described as a “vanity” project by protesters, despite the cost and loss of such a large amount of green space.
Construction of the line, which will cut through 54kms of ancient forest and woodland, began approximately a month ago to the dismay of local residents and environmentalists alike. Despite reassurances by HS2 that they will plant new woodlands and create bigger green spaces, campaigners are concerned that the loss of mature trees and natural habitat will have a devastating impact on the local wildlife. You can view the destruction of the forest and woodlands at Rebellion HS2 .
Protesters at the site have set up camps, both on the ground and up in the trees, in an attempt to protect the local wildlife for as long as possible. Eviction notices have been served yet the protesters, supported by local residents, have vowed to protect the trees for as long as they can.
Which is why I am pleased to see Swampy join them to fight the good fight, once again. This time, he’s brought his 16-year-old son.
Swampy was a UK environmental activist way, way back before we took environmental issues seriously. He protested a number of bypass constructions in rural southern England in the 90s, but he first came to my attention when I was around 13 years old. I remember watching him on the news, sat up in the trees for weeks at a time, as he protested against the building of a second runway at Manchester airport, which meant the loss of a large area of green space.
The idea that a person might actually give up their comfort, time and energy to protect nature was so novel yet so inspiring to my younger self. When my teacher told me that Swampy’s actions were futile, that he wouldn’t be able to stop it, I was even more blown away.that he would carry on regardless, even if he wouldn’t win the fight. He was one of a number of people who inspired my younger self to take care of the planet.
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Which is why I am so glad to see him return to live in the trees to continue the example he set so many years ago. It’s clear that the protest against the construction of the line is likely to fail. The need for speed and convenience has already won out in the granting of the planning application to build the line. The tree protectors will be evicted, ancient trees felled, and wildlife adversely affected, regardless of the actions of the protesters. They will continue protesting on behalf of the planet and the wildlife until the bitter end, even if the fight appears to be futile. Instead, they will hold HS2 accountable for the damage they will cause.
While they may not win this fight, the actions of the protesters can inspire us to step up and do our bit for the environment before it’s too late. What seems like a futile protest can be a reminder to each and every one of us, that we have the power to speak out and stop future developments, like this one, that destroy the environment with little regard for wildlife at an earlier stage.
A lesson that no action is ever in vain. Even in the face of such a devastating loss.
(c) Samantha Wilson 2020. All Rights Reserved.