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- On Monday 4 May, HS2 Rebellion will blockade and shut down HS2 compounds across Central and Greater London, from Euston to Colne Valley.
- The action has been designed to comply with COVID-19 safety guidelines and legislation, something HS2 is not managing itself.
- Pairs of rebels with banners in full PPE and maintaining social distancing will take their daily exercise in the entranceways of HS2 compounds.
- Ongoing compound blockades, occupations and camps are also continuing in Colne Valley.
- Alongside this, an online and telephone campaign is targeting the Government, HS2 Ltd and its various subcontractors with comments and complaints
- HS2 Rebellion is calling for all work on HS2 to be halted, the project scrapped and the roughly £200bn it is costing to be invested in the NHS instead.
- HS2 is the most carbon-intensive and environmentally destructive project in UK history.
- HS2 Ltd is using the COVID-19 lockdown to push ahead with its most controversial and destructive work, endangering workers and the general public, whilst causing irreparable damage to nature
- With our beleaguered NHS desperately needing financial support, the Government is instead pouring money into this catastrophic project – it is time to prioritise NHS not HS2.
- For rolling updates, photos, videos, interviews and quotes throughout the day, please join our journalist WhatsApp groups – to be added, contact +447459055152 / +447852505826
On Monday 4th May from 7am – 7pm, HS2 Rebellion’s Shut The Sites day of synchronised actions will attempt to blockade and shut down key HS2 working areas in Central and Greater London, from Euston Station to Colne Valley, for the entire day. Environmental protectors have been disrupting HS2 crimes in ancient woodlands in other parts of the country for years, highlighting HS2’s corruption and democratic deficit, but this is the first time these tactics have targeted HS2’s operations in the heart of the capital.
The actions have been carefully designed to comply with COVID-19 safety measures and legislation – guidelines HS2 Ltd is not following. Evidence shows that workers continue to flout COVID-19 rules amid reports that the virus is rife at HS2 sites, despite management attempts to keep cases secret. HS2 Ltd has been criticised for using the lockdown to rush through the most destructive and controversial felling of ancient woodlands, during bird-nesting season.
HS2 Ltd is risking the wellbeing of its workers, their families and communities by prioritising a few weeks of work over their safety. There are no winners here, but there are losers – and our NHS is one of them. Not only does HS2 work risk spreading infection, the money being funnelled into this over-budget project could be spent on our under-funded healthcare system.
HS2 Rebellion will be piloting a rolling blockade and shutdown of the two HS2 compounds in the Euston area. Each will be blocked by two people at a time, observing social distancing measures and holding a banner communicating the key message: #NHS Not HS2. The banner will act as a psychological and physical barrier, preventing vehicles carrying equipment, workers and deliveries from accessing the site. In accordance with HS2 Rebellion’s strict principle of non-violence, pedestrians won’t be prevented from accessing the compounds.
The actions have been designed to comply fully with best practice safety precautions for preventing the transmission of COVID-19. With only two people in any given location at a time, there are no large gatherings involved in this protest. All participants will be wearing PPE and will maintain social distancing with banners designed to ensure the minimum two metres of separation at all times.
Each pair will use their permitted outdoor exercise to participate in the rolling blockade, before being relieved by the next pair.
The actions tomorrow will only disrupt the non-essential work of HS2. It is therefore to be expected that the police will uphold the right to peaceful protest enshrined in UK law with a light touch – similar to that shown to the nurses who recently blocked Westminster Bridge in protest over the lack of adequate provision of PPE.
Partially sighted Paralympian James Brown, who famously climbed on top of a plane at City Airport last October, is participating in Monday’s Euston actions. He says: “My wife is an NHS doctor, my daughter a carer. I run a charity that supports many of the UK’s most vulnerable disabled individuals. All three of us have almost certainly had the virus but the lack of testing means we can’t be certain.
“Against a backdrop of austerity, the NHS is now really struggling. While funding for essential services is cut, support for the most polluting industries continues to flow. To see HS2, the most carbon-intensive infrastructure project in Europe, being pushed forward by the Government at this time is infuriating. There’s no rational justification for it.
“I’ve witnessed HS2 carrying out illegal works during the COVID-19 pandemic. I know the power wielded by HS2 is enormous because of the apparent bottomless money pit that underpins the project, but I also know of the determination of the very many who are opposed to it. I cannot sit back and watch this without taking action. I’m going to do all I can to prevent this insane project from going ahead.”
At Harvil Road Wildlife Protection Camp in the Colne Valley, an HS2 compound has been blocked since 3 March by protectors asserting squatters’ rights for a tent pitched in its entrance. Protectors allow diesel wagons through so security staff can keep warm with power in their cabin. But the pile driver and parts of a 250-tonne crane have been trapped inside for two whole months, preventing their use elsewhere along the route.
People have also been living in a garage on Dews Lane, blocking HS2 from destroying both woodland and a residential home in order to build a haulage road. They are intending to resist an attempt to evict them and make them homeless in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, anticipated on Monday.
Environmental protectors are also continuing to defend a camp in a nearby lakeside woodland, and another in Denham Country Park where they are protecting trees several hundred years old. Here, as in Euston, people intend to blockade an adjoining HS2 compound for the whole of the day.
Haylie Marie, an NHS worker who lives at Harvil Road Wildlife Protection Camp, says: “HS2 is destroying the Amazon of our country, the trees we need to breathe. Our NHS is underfunded and can’t supply basics for workers during a worldwide pandemic, yet HS2 continues. HS2 will not even be carbon neutral after 120 years and the drilling at Harvil Road risks polluting 22 per cent of London’s drinking water. It has to stop.
“How is the Government telling people the truth when it’s pushing HS2 through at this time? The public need to know the truth about HS2 and its lies.”
NHS not HS2
The banners being used to blockade site entrances across London will read “NHS not HS2” drawing attention to the disparity between the £200bn being ploughed into a project very few want, and the chronic underfunding of the NHS. NHS staff are being put in danger due to the Government’s refusal to prepare for a disaster it had been warned about. There are stark parallels with its steadfast refusal to adequately address the even greater threat posed by the Climate and Ecological Emergency, which Parliament declared on 1st May 2019.
Until now, activists have focused their efforts on preventing the destruction of ancient woodlands and accompanying biodiversity in remote rural locations. Here, largely unobserved by the outside world, they have been subjected to serious assaults by HS2 staff while protecting trees containing nesting birds. Now they are drawing attention to the crimes also being committed within London. Here, majestic mature trees are under threat and beautiful old buildings are being compulsorily purchased for demolition at fractions of their true value.
HS2 Rebellion is calling for work on HS2 to cease immediately, for the project to be cancelled and for the estimated £200bn it is costing to be invested in the NHS instead. There is an urgent need for a drastic upgrade of democracy through the immediate introduction of a representative Citizens Assembly, with the powers to guide us through this and the still greater crises to come.
Alongside the actions in Central and Greater London on Monday, other activists will be continuing an ongoing campaign of online and telephone actions dubbed Risky Business, targeting the UK Government, HS2 Ltd and its various subcontractors – including 5 Rivers, Flannery Plant Hire, Hartwood, Midlands Ecology and Adas – with a barrage of complaints and mass commenting on social media and other forums. This campaign allows everyone to participate in protesting HS2’s crimes during lockdown.
Jess, 19, trainee conservationist, comments: “Helping to prepare and take part in remote actions to help stop the ‘risky business’ at HS2 sites has given me a sense of camaraderie and solidarity during the isolation of lockdown. I felt fury and helplessness watching the destruction of HS2 construction ploughing ahead in a pandemic, I’m so grateful to have a way to protest this lethal decision from home. It’s easy to get stuck in and fight for positive change together.”
Notes to Editors
Watch HS2 in a minute at HS2Rebellion.earth
About HS2 Rebellion
This people-powered campaign has been formed to stop the ongoing corruption, deceit and devastation that by HS2 Ltd. Lives are being threatened, laws flouted and precious ecosystems are being destroyed while the country is in lockdown due to the COVID-19 crisis, a time when the nation is worried and distracted, and widespread protest difficult. To make matters worse, these crimes against democracy, decency and nature are being committed during bird and bat nesting season. As The Woodland Trust recently pointed out, the areas where HS2 work continues apace are facing ‘imminent death’ at exactly the time they should be ‘bursting into life’.
We cannot stand by and watch this happen. As the NHS goes underfunded, money is being burnt and ancient trees are being torn down, we are rising up.
HS2 is set to destroy 108 ancient woodlands and almost 700 wildlife sites. As well as costing the UK tax payer well over £100 billion, the high speed rail project is already causing extensive and irreversible damage to the environment and will be a vast new source of carbon emissions for at least the next 120 years, as well as enabling mass airport expansion.
HS2 have repeatedly failed to produce a Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment, despite this being a legal requirement.
The Government must scrap HS2 immediately, instead using the money to improve and invest in the NHS, and in local services and projects that adapt to the reality we face in this COVID 19 pandemic and Climate and Ecological Emergency.