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HS2 is Not Worth the Cost

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  • This Friday, 28 August, Extinction Rebellion and HS2 Rebellion will hold a series of protests at key locations along the HS2 line, demanding the UK government scrap the destructive high speed rail project and invest in sustainable projects instead
  • 11am Curzon Street Station, Birmingham, speeches followed by a funeral procession to HS2 Headquarters
  • 12pm London Euston Station, the Woodland Critters Picnic
  • 8:30am Manchester Piccadilly Station
  • Fridays events are the part of XR bank holiday protests in the lead up to the next UK Rebellion

On Friday 28 August, activists from Extinction Rebellion and HS2 Rebellion will be holding actions at key locations along the HS2 line to protest the spiralling costs and mourn the ecological destruction caused by the contentious high speed rail project. There will be a socially-distanced funeral march through the centre of Birmingham, a Woodland Critters Picnic in Euston and a protest at Manchester Piccadilly station. 

In Birmingham, activists dressed in funeral attire will gather at 11am in Eastside Park, directly across from the HS2 Curzon Street Station construction site. They will then march to the HS2 Head Office at Snowhill. With chants of “NHS not HS2” they will demand the government reprioritise national spending on sustainable projects and tackling the climate and economic emergency. 

The groups are opposed to HS2’s eye watering price tag, which has already doubled to £106 billion1 and is likely to increase further. Beset by delays and skyrocketing costs, HS2 was branded as ‘unachieveable’ last month by the government’s Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA).2 HS2 will also destroy some of the last remaining ancient woodland in the Midlands, with at least 108 sites severely impacted or destroyed nationwide.3 These venerable woodlands have stood since before Shakespeare’s time and are filled with rare and protected bats, badgers, butterflies and other creatures.4 Wetlands and wildflower meadows will also be decimated.

During a national pandemic and climate and ecological emergency, our government is destroying precious wildlife to build a trainline no one wants,” said Verel Rodrigues, 25, a mechanical engineer from Extinction Rebellion Birmingham. “HS2 is simply not worth the environmental or economic cost. We could build over 200 hospitals and fund nearly half a million doctors with the money being poured into HS2. Tickets will cost £2405, which is unaffordable to most people. And it only makes the Birmingham-London journey 20 minutes faster!”  

After gathering at 11am for speeches and stories from those who have been on the frontlines opposing HS2, the activists will begin a solemn procession to the HS2 Headquarters at 11:45am. Once they arrive, they will hold a die-in and eulogy for the lost ecology. “A die-in is a powerful visual image to show the devastating impact of HS2 destruction,” said support worker Sarah Reel, 25, of Extinction Rebellion. “We will send our message loud and clear to HS2 executives that the people of the Midlands are completely opposed to funding this overpriced and unnecessary vanity project.”

Following the die-in, the marchers will return to Eastside park for a family-friendly arts picnic.

Sarah Reel admitted that some people are puzzled that Extinction Rebellion is opposed to a public transport project. “It’s hugely disappointing that HS2 was not designed to be a green alternative in terms of energy consumption and carbon footprint. By its own admission, HS2 will never be carbon neutral.6 The government should scrap HS2 immediately and instead invest in the NHS, improve existing rail networks and local infrastructure, and adapt to the new reality we face in this COVID-19 pandemic and Climate and Ecological Emergency.

In London’s Euston Square Gardens, the ‘Woodland Critters Picnic’ starts at midday, where people are invited to come dressed as woodland animals. There will be speeches from those campaigning against HS2, a samba band and art and drumming workshops. Manchester’s protest will begin at 8:30am outside Piccadilly station. 

These events are part of a weekend of national protests7 leading up to an occupation of Parliament Square in London on the first of September.8 Extinction Rebellion will highlight the government’s continued failure to act on the climate crisis and demand MPs back the Climate and Ecological Emergency bill. The Bill requires the government to enact urgent measures to curb our greenhouse gas emissions and reduce runaway climate breakdown. 

HS2 Rebellion will join Extinction Rebellion at Parliament from September 1st as they continue to highlight the ecological costs of the trainline. Watch out for the Boris The Bank Engine theatrical performance, poking fun at the ridiculousness of HS2, visiting various London locations on Sept 1st and 4th.  Protesters will stay in London for two weeks of targeted actions.

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Notes to Editors

For rolling updates, photos, videos, interviews and quotes throughout the day, please join our journalist WhatsApp groups – to be added, contact 07969 083 371

More information on Facebook events:

Midlands HS2 Rebellion 28th August

London EUSTON HS2 Rebellion (28th August)

Manchester,  Piccadilly Pellets (28th August)

London Parliament Square HS2 Rebellion (1st Sept – …)

About HS2

HS2 is set to destroy 108 ancient woodlands and almost 700 wildlife sites. As well as costing the UK tax payer well over £200 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. 

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.

About HS2 Rebellion

HS2 Rebellion is an alliance of groups and individuals campaigning against HS2. Including but not exclusively :StopHS2, Save Cubbington Woods, Crackley Woods protection Camp, Denham Ford Protection Camp, Poors Piece conservation Project and XR. It is entirely distinct from Extinction Rebellion, but does form part of the Movement of Movements, alongside other sister groups like Wildlife Rebellion, Animal Rebellion and Global Justice Rebellion. 

This people-powered campaign has been formed to stop  the ongoing corruption, deceit and devastation of HS2 Ltd. Lives are being threatened, laws flouted and precious ecosystems are being destroyed while the country is suffering due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

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.

About Extinction Rebellion

Time has almost entirely run out to address the ecological crisis which is upon us, including the 6th mass species extinction, global pollution, and abrupt, runaway climate change. Societal collapse and mass death are seen as inevitable by scientists and other credible voices, with human extinction also a possibility, if rapid action is not taken.

Extinction Rebellion believes it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by their Government.

Extinction Rebellion’s key demands are:

  1. Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
  2. Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
  3. Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.

What Emergency? | Extinction Rebellion in Numbers |This Is Not A Drill: An Extinction Rebellion Handbook