Bucks Goat Centre property entered by contractors for HS2
Bucks Goat Centre in Stoke Mandeville is a popular local destination which was founded in 1991 by Michael Gaisford, and is currently owned by his daughter, Ruth.
On 23 September, while Ruth was away on holiday, Fusion JV contractors working on behalf of HS2 trespassed on land owned by the centre in order to remove hedgerows. According to personnel at the centre, they were not consulted about this access prior to its occurrence. On the day, Ruth posted on the Goat Centre’s social media:
Tweet 23 September 2020, 8.14pm:
Whilst on my holiday Fusion (contracted by HS2) trespass on my land with chain saws, start to cut down hedgerow that’s not agreed, leave the hedge that is now damaged spread across my property No consultation, no responsibility, completely lack of health and safety #help
Facebook post 23 September 2020, 9.05pm:
Whilst I’m on my holiday Fusion (contracted by HS2) trespass on my land with chain saws, start to cut down hedgerow that has not not been agreed, leave the hedge that is now damaged spread across my property, where our visitors walk ways should be. No consultation, no responsibility, completely lack of health and safety… and HS2 say they know nothing about it… what a bunch of ……,
Animal welfare issue… HS2 don’t care about our beautiful animals on site, causing them stress today
In order to deal with the trespass, head keeper Anthony Hearn was called in on his day off. The trespass and resulting increase in workload has meant that he has not only lost his time off this week, but since this incident, worked nearly 20 hours of overtime in three days in order to close off a section of the farm to the public due to safety concerns, attend to the distressed animals, survey the damage done and speak with the Fusion JV employees.
The decision to close part of the farm to the public was not taken lightly, as the area closed off contains the memorial bench erected in honour of the farm’s founder, which serves as the centerpiece of the mental wellbeing and relaxation section of the farm – a place to just be in nature. Sadly, the devastation surrounding the bench leaves no nature behind it – there is now a clear view of the new road that Fusion JV is building between the farm and the proposed HS2 track.
With the destruction of the hedgerows beside the farm, there will be constant noise and bustle affecting the animals onsite and causing them stress. The hedgerows protected the farm from not only the noise related to road construction, but also noise from the construction of a compound for HS2. HS2 have repeatedly promised noise, vibration and traffic monitors to the farm, but as yet none have appeared.
There is also the issue of the ecological survey that Anthony has been told was completed on the hedgerow on 21 & 22 September. Anthony has worked internationally in animal welfare and is the founder and managing director of the Sumatra Camera Trap Project. In the video posted here (https://www.facebook.com/anthony.hearn.399/videos/10164350466335541/) he cites just some of the endangered species he has seen in the hedgerow that borders the farm. This is the same hedgerow that the ecological survey determined had no intrinsic value to local wildlife. The centre is requesting a copy of the ecological survey, but that will not restore the hedgerow.
In the accompanying photos, it is clearly shown that Fusion JV employees crossed onto the farm’s land to complete their work. When questioned about it, they responded that it was “a mistake” and that it wouldn’t be repeated.
The Bucks Goat Centre, as is the case with many small businesses – whether they be animal centres or not – is staffed by a team devoted to the business. The team members are now worried for the stress levels of their animals and the accessibility and safety of their site.
Unfortunately, the works completed on the 23rd do not constitute the first time such destructive actions have been reported about people working on behalf of HS2. The government proposes that HS2 will be a force to unify the country, but actions like these do not show a desire to unify.
Accompanying photos by J Brown, 26/9/2020 and Bucks Goat Centre staff 23/9/2020.