“After 47 days underground and exhausting all of our supplies, we decided to leave the occupation by escaping through a secret tunnel. The escape tunnel was over 40m long and went undetected by HS2 for the entire 6 weeks. HS2 threw out the health and safety rule book when they planned to starve us out of this eviction and have shown their complete negligence and incompetence.” Satchel, an activist who occupied the tunnel.
“The vindictive tactics being used by HS2 and the government to both silence and punish peaceful protestors are becoming only more apparent. From denying us a proper air supply for over 6 weeks, to the Public Order Bill which intends to further criminalise those who stand up against the climate crisis – this government is waging a war on nature and those who stand up to protect it.” Satchel, an activist who occupied the tunnel.
“HS2 do not even plan to use this woodland until 2024, yet they are taking control of it now and destroying habitats unnecessarily. Woodlands have been unnecessarily destroyed along Phase 1 as HS2 has been re-routed. Our protest intended to prevent this same tragedy happening on Phase 2a in Staffordshire.” Mark Keir, activist resisting HS2.
“This type of tunnel protest needs a swift and professional response to ensure the safety of all involved. The protest group must be supplied with hard wired communications, compressed air being pumped at low pressure into the furthest part of the tunnel and air monitoring must be supplied in the furthest chamber. The longer people are left underground the more likely there is to be a fatality.” Peter Faulding who runs Specialist Group International and has been involved in clearing man-made tunnels for decades, including the Newbury bypass protest in 1996.
Activists resisting HS2’s ecocidal and financially ruinous project have escaped through a network of underground tunnels.
Despite not being provided with the basic health and safety equipment or continuous supply of air, activists spent a record 47 days underground – setting the record for longest tunnel protest in British history.
Protestors have stumped security by exiting from right under their noses. Whilst HS2 planned to starve protestors out the tunnel, activists took matters into their own hands and exited through a secret route.
This tunnel protest has been different from the beginning. In a move that has been questioned by campaigners and security personnel alike, HS2 ordered for protestors not to be dug out and instead left inside the tunnel with no proper air supply, no gas monitoring equipment or emergency breathing apparatus.
The tunnels were dug under what was known as Bluebell Woods Protection Camp, near Swynnerton, ST15 0QS. This is the fourth tunnel eviction which has taken place on the campaign against HS2. Previous subterranean protests along the proposed route have lasted for 35 days in Wendover, Buckinghamshire and 31 days in Euston, London.
Campaigners say the decision by HS2 to not dig protestors out put people in unnecessary danger.
Campaigners continue to assert HS2 is a social and environmental catastrophe. They moved underground after bailiffs arrived to evict the camp on 10th May. HS2 will never be carbon neutral and its ecocidal construction actively hinders our ability to sequester carbon.
While the protest has been taking place, Priti Patel’s war on peaceful protest has continued. The Conservatives attempted to add a new amendment to the Public Order Bill, which could see protestors who use tunnelling as a tactic jailed for up to three years.
The Public Order Bill is the government’s latest attempt to re-introduce the draconian amendments that were rejected from the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill by the House of Lords, which will effectively ban protest, and gives the government increasingly authoritarian powers to silence those who speak out against them.
We also await a judge’s ruling on a first of its kind route-wide injunction, which has been described as “an affront to democracy.”
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