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HS2 deny air and safety equipment to protestors occupying tunnels in Staffordshire


Today protestors heard the shocking news that once again HS2 are putting their lives in danger by not following minimum safety requirements – leaving those underground with no air supply or rescue capability in place. 

Eviction has begun at HS2 protest camps in Staffordshire where protestors have established two camps known as ‘Bluebell A’ which is under eviction and ‘Bluebell B’ which is under siege. 

Bluebell A was established over a year ago just off the A51, near Swynnerton, where people have been demonstrating against plans to cut down woodlands for the HS2 line. The camp was served with notice at the end of March. At around 4am on Tuesday morning around 100 bailiffs and security moved in to remove protesters. 

Concerns for safety have arisen, as it has been revealed protestors who are occupying an underground tunnel network have been denied air supply and safety equipment. The protestors own air supply has been cut off by bailiffs and requests for oxygen and safety equipment have been ignored. Protestors believe this order to deny them safety equipment is coming from HS2. We have received a message from those underground: 

“The tunnel team have asked for safety equipment to perform a potential rescue if anything goes wrong. This is basic kit – a tripod and an arrest fall kit. HS2 have decided not to action that request at this time. HS2, directed by Glen Payton, are deliberately trying to starve us of air.” 

“We lose 0.5% O2 every metre we go into the tunnel so where people are sleeping there are very low levels of oxygen. HS2 are refusing safety equipment to us and the equipment needed to perform a rescue. We are understandably frustrated, but in good spirits and resolute to keep resisting the national catastrophe that is HS2.” An unnamed protestor occupying the tunnel. 

Protestors on the ground are urging people to put pressure on HS2 to correctly follow the safety procedures and keep protestors safe. 

“It is incredibly dangerous and negligent to be interfering with people’s air supply. As such an unpopular project, HS2 are bound to be subject to passionate protests against them. Whether HS2 like it or not, these people are under their care whilst they are peacefully protesting, and the cost of this negligence could be very dear.” David Buchan.

“We urge you, if you are also concerned, to lodge a complaint with the HS2 help desk 08081 434 434 and fill in this form for the Health and Safety Executive.” 

Protestors have occupied tunnels a number of times in a bid to halt HS2 in its destructive path. In January 2021 protestors occupied a tunnel under Euston Square Gardens, in Lichfield in March 2021, and again in October 2021 when it took 5 weeks to evict protestors from tunnels near Wendover. Concerns that HS2 are not correctly following safety procedures are not new. During the eviction at Euston, the protestors were not supplied with air for the first 36 hours of the eviction. HS2 came under mounting pressure from concerned people, and eventually air was supplied. 

Meanwhile, protestors are under siege at their sister camp Bluebell B. This camp is not on HS2 land and HS2 have no rights to possession of the land or to remove protestors. 

Instead of evicting, in an underhand move, HS2 has fenced around the entirety of the camp and are refusing people entry, leaving protestors trapped inside. They claim they have recently bought the land surrounding the camp including the verge in front of the camp which is occupied by vehicles. However, HS2 have not given the 28 day notice period required of them by law and continue to fail to provide necessary paperwork to prove they are acting lawfully. 

“This is just the kind of dirty tactics HS2 like to use against peaceful protestors. They have absolutely no rights to remove us from the land, and so instead are trying to starve us out.” 

“But we will not be deterred by HS2 and their below the belt strategies. We have had overwhelming support from people who are driving passed and seeing us trapped inside, and from local campaign ‘Stop The Stink’ who are standing up to oppressive businesses using bully- boy tactics.” Drew Robson 

Members of the National Eviction Team and HS2’s private security are standing outside the newly erected fence, trying to stop supplies and people from entering. However, since they set up, a number of protestors have gained entry, and supplies have been thrown by people from the public highway into the protestors inside. 

Drew added: “HS2 is an incredibly damaging environmental project and brings no benefit to local people. We’re in a climate crisis, the COP26 ruling said we should halt all felling in the UK, but HS2 will take over 108 ancient woodlands and countless nature reserves and is the largest single contributor of CO2 of any major construction project in British history.” 

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