HS2 contractors not immune from wildlife prosecutions, court rules

HS2 contractors not immune from wildlife prosecutions, court rules

Contractors engaged on the development of the HS2 rail line are not immune from prosecution for wildlife offences, the Excessive Court has dominated in acquitting a protester who climbed right into a tree to forestall employees from slicing it down.

Sebastian Roblyn was discovered responsible of an offence pursuant to part 241(1)(c) Commerce Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 for having ‘hindered a workman in the use of his tools with a view to causing him to abstain from doing a lawful act namely felling a tree’.

District Decide Malcolm Dodds held that, regardless of proof the felling might need resulted in wildlife offences, the contractors had the authorized proper to fell the tree. Roblyn was convicted and ordered to pay a surcharge of £22 and court prices of £300.

Nevertheless, his enchantment by the use of case said – which was not opposed – was allowed by the Excessive Court this week. Mr Justice Garnham stated the district decide was ‘wrong to conclude that the felling of the tree was an act that the contractors had a legal right to do and it was not open to him to convict the appellant’.

‘An essential element of the alleged offence under s241(1) of the 1992 act was that HS2 Ltd and its contractors were acting lawfully and had a lawful right to fell the tree,’ Garnham stated.

Because the district decide accepted the felling of the tree may result in the fee of offences below sections 1 and 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and paragraph 43(1) Conservation of Habitats and European Species Rules 2017, ‘the prosecution had failed to establish that the activity was lawful’, the decide held.

Garnham stated: ‘As a matter of law, it is possible for HS2-appointed contractors to commit wildlife offences.’ He added: ‘That being so, if, as the district judge had found to be the case, there was evidence that the construction scheme, including the felling of the tree in question, “may have resulted in” wildlife offences then it cannot be said that contractors were acting lawfully or had a lawful right to fell the tree.’

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