Two protesters have been acquitted of 'aggravated trespass' at a HS2 site in Hillingdon, where they raised concerns that drilling into an aquifer on the site could potentially cause irreparable damage to 22% of London's drinking water.
Sarah Green, 63, a Green party member, and Laura Hughes, 37, of Extinction Rebellion, were both charged with aggravated trespass for protesting against work HS2 was carrying out in the Colne Valley nature reserve in Hillingdon, London.
The Colne Valley nature reserve is home to a variety of fauna and flora including bats, owls and osprey.
Sarah and Laura have repeatedly raised worries about damage to wild life in the area and more worryingly, problems caused by HS2 pile driving into an aquifer on site, which is the source of 22% of London's drinking water.
The Chiltern Society have already expressed concerns about drilling in the area, which you can read about here.
Previously, both Sarah and Laura had pleaded not guilty to charges in relation to obstructing a digger.
On December 11th 2018, Sarah Green and Lora Hughes had stopped HS2 Ltd from working at Harvil Road in Harfield, Green by climbing on top of a digger, Hughes by locking herself to it with a bicycle lock, because they were concerned that HS2 Ltd intended to drill through a chalk aquifer which supplies water to 3.2 million people.
Drilling is still scheduled to take place in a pollution pathway from the New years Green Special Site of contamination.
The protest lasted a couple of hours, with both women arrested and subsequently charged with aggravated trespass.
Sarah Green responded:
“HS2 must be prevented from destroying our drinking water sources and the chalk aquifer south of Harefield. With this court case we set out to do this and we have more work to do.”
Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin added:
“In this case the CPS did what HS2 Ltd never have, and fully accepted the defence evidence that HS2 pile driving in the Colne Valley could have a major impact on water supplies, and that the aquifer could be easily contaminated by known pollutants on this site.
"We call on HS2 Ltd to immediately publish any assessments they have undertaking which would look at how their work would affect aquifers, and what the subsequent threats to water supplies and public health are.
"As Boris Johnson has pointed out today, water supplies need to stay safe and secure, yet right on his doorstep HS2 Ltd are treating them in a cavalier manner. This really has to be investigated properly, and like with everything to do with HS2, the public has a right to know the truth.”
Judge Deborah Wright, dismissed the case after she said it was not possible to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the protesters were trespassing on land belonging to HS2.
HS2 had previously admitted that a map it provided to the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) outlining which part of the site was covered by a high court injunction against protesters was incorrectly labeled.
Two witnesses from HS2's security detail also presented conflicting reports of where the protesters were on the site at the time, which created doubt as to whether they were on HS2 land.
There was confusion in the court as to what land was protected by an injunction and infact owned by HS2.
The Bucks Herald is currently leading the HS2: Enough Is Enough campaign - to find out more and to join our campaign group type in HS2: Enough Is Enough on Facebook.