Shooting Times & Country Magazine

Hypocrisy claim as XR calls for mass trespass

Activists say that most land in England is being ‘criminally misused’ but, in a supreme irony, XR’S latest stunt is likely to disrupt wildlife

- Charlotte Peters

Environmen­tal activist group Extinction Rebellion (XR) is mobilising supporters to trespass on private land after claiming they are denied access to “92% of the land in England”. Participan­ts are being encouraged to “peacefully climb over ‘no trespassin­g’ or ‘private property’ signs”.

The latest protest, scheduled for this Saturday (24 April), is part of a campaign against private land ownership, inspired in part by Guy Shrubshole’s book, Who Owns England? Jakes Fiennes, conservati­on general manager at the Holkham estate, said: “The vast majority of people are not connected to the land because we are effectivel­y an urban society, so they will apply the same principle of walking through Hyde Park as walking through a farm landscape and not realise the impact.”

He also disputed claims that the countrysid­e is a no-go zone, saying that throughout his life, working for some of the country’s biggest estates, he has been part of efforts to grant the public further access.

Shooting Times contacted Extinction Rebellion last Friday to ask what guidelines it was giving to participan­ts to ensure that animals, birds and biosecurit­y were protected, but had not had a response as we went to press. Of particular concern is the environmen­tal damage the trespass poses.

Richard Negus, hedge layer and Shooting Times contributo­r, said: “The countrysid­e at this time of year is at its most fragile. Everything is ready to reproduce or already reproducin­g. Grey partridges, lapwings and skylarks have to behave secretivel­y to hide their ground-nesting sites and it will be all too easy for Extinction Rebellion protesters to stomp over and destroy delicate hidden nests.

“It seems to be the height of hypocrisy that [XR] says it is caring forthe environmen­t when its very actions are going to harm it.”

This is the same group that halted packed trains in October 2019, though rail is one of the ‘greenest’ forms of transport. Frustrated

THEY SAID WHAT

“It will be all too easy for XR protesters to stomp over and destroy delicate nests”

commuters vented their anger and Extinction Rebellion lost much of its former public support. At the time, XR spokesman Howard Rees said: “Was it the right thing to do? I am not sure.”

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