Save the Colne Valley from HS2

I love a good protest, so I went to Hillingdon to visit the Harvil Road protectors, a group committed to stopping the damage to many square miles of beautiful places by HS2.

Normally I would be leaping to support a public transport project, but HS2 is a horror. It’s a railway that is far too expensive for the gain of 20mins reduction time in travel for a few business people and by-passes a lot of communities in desperate need of local rail services. It is also far too destructive for many Sites of Special Scientific Interest because it’s so fast it can’t go around corners to avoid them, and far too underdeveloped in planning eg what will happen to all those passengers shoved out at Euston into an already overcrowded transport system. So I joined the protectors of some very lovely water meadows in Hillingdon on the edge of London, who were cheerful, enthusiastic, and settling in for a long fight.

Their camp is a few tents on a verge alongside a busy road, with seating under a shelter of logs and old chairs. They immediately made me coffee by boiling a pot of water on their fire. Opposite is the carnage of acres of cleared woods and heaps of earth, with machinery and lots of yellow coated workmen.

When I arrived on the local bus, security guards immediately started filming me and were heard on their radios asking who I was. When we moved to their side of the road to take photos under a banner, they got nervous and asked us to go back to our side of the road.

There seems to be a lot of local support. While I was there, a small lorry stopped with an offer of a load of firewood and our chatting was constantly interrupted by cars, van, lorries hooting in support.

Hillingdon alone is losing 7,000 trees to HS2, which will add to air pollution, noise and a decrease in flood prevention. The Council seems to have accepted the removal of several hundred mature trees in North Hillingdon which will adversely affect air quality in an area inside the M25.

There are queries over the driving out and possible killing of badgers and bats. There are queries about whether the freshwater fish and eels will be depleted by water pollution from this very large project which is set to move or alter major watercourses in the Colne Valley. And there are queries over who is holding the companies involved to account for their Environmental Impact Assessments if badger sets can be destroyed and trees of breeding bats felled?

These few Harvil Road protectors are hoping to stop HS2 at this crucial junction where the first earth has been turned on the whole project. We must support them, not just by visiting, not just by hooting as we go past, but by chasing our political representatives, our councillors and our MPs, making clear our objections to the out of control big toy that HS2 has become.


Questions raised with Gove about Red Tractor pig farms

I’ve written to the Environment Minister, Michael Gove, about alleged failures of the Red Tractor farms to guarantee minimum standards of animal welfare. An investigation carried out by the organisation Animal Equality exposed serious welfare problems on four British Red Tractor pig farms and includes video footage. Continue reading “Questions raised with Gove about Red Tractor pig farms”

Social justice is as important between generations, as it is within generations

The NUS plays a pivotal role in promoting an understanding of the links between the environment and social justice in this country. So it was a great pleasure to speak at their ‘Green Impact’ Parliamentary reception, which celebrates the way that sustainability has become part of the core business of what the NUS does locally and nationally.

A sense of community links all the anti-fracking campaigns

The common bond between all the towns and villages under threat of fracking in England is their powerful sense of identity and community through the campaigns. Fracking is an imposition, an invasion by big government and corporate power. To represent this common bond, the threatened communities have banded together to produce a Commonweal wheel. It’s inspired by Parliamentary ideas from the Civil War period that power should be invested as close to the people as possible to manage the environment suitably for their sustenance, overriding the interests of the crown and royal decree. Continue reading “A sense of community links all the anti-fracking campaigns”

Sentient creatures and Brexit

The Commons came within 18 votes of passing a Caroline Lucas amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill which would have included protection of sentient creatures. Early next year I shall put this same amendment to the Lords. It is an existing EU principle and one of many principles underpinning EU law and regulation that have been rejected as amendments by the government.

Continue reading “Sentient creatures and Brexit”

Pesticides in our food, our soil and our countryside

I asked the Government what steps they are taking to protect rural communities from pesticides and whether they intend to adopt non-chemical farming methods post-Brexit. It is almost inevitable that my question achieves little more than raising a neglected issue on behalf of neglected communities. However, it does allow other peers to join in with their own set of constituent concerns or issues. Continue reading “Pesticides in our food, our soil and our countryside”