HS2 contractors prepare for destruction of ancient woodland and attempt to ‘starve-out’ protesters
March 30, 2020 by Extinction Rebellion
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HS2 security guards and bailiffs are attempting to ‘starve out’ five environmental protectors who have been living in tree houses in a bid to prevent the non-essential and irreversible destruction of ancient woodland and potential wildlife crimes by HS2.
Dr Larch Maxey, Extinction Rebellion activist and one of the earth protectors who have been fenced in by HS2 for the last five days, whilst self isolating in a treehouse, in Crackley Woods, Warwickshire, said: “My plea to Boris Johnson is to listen to the scientists, listen to the countries that are stopping construction work during this time of the coronavirus pandemic, listen to your heart and listen to all of us who are pleading with you now to stop HS2 and do the honorable thing.”
“The work of HS2 is abhorrent, risking the spread of coronavirus in a pandemic, decimating nature, and accelerating the Climate and Nature Emergency.”
From Wednesday HS2 Ltd intends to start felling five areas of ancient woodland, Cubbington Woods, Crackley Woods, Broadwells Wood and Birches Wood in Warwickshire and Fulfen Wood in Staffordshire in nesting season despite strict legal prohibition on the disturbing of nesting birds – going against expert advice from conservationists. 
Ongoing work is being carried out without sufficient wildlife and environmental assessment, bat mitigation licences and without ecologists on site to monitor HS2’s work. There were 50 workers in Broadwells wood today – where HS2 has fenced off the parts of the wood they do not own or possess working illegally near a fresh badger sett and have closed off access to a public road. Campaigners claim that HS2 is using injunctions on the woodlands and the opportunity of the country being on lockdown to prevent the public witnessing wildlife crimes. The RSPB has urged HS2 not to clear woods during the April–September nesting season and is urging members of the public to call the police if they see HS2 workers harming wildlife. 
Whilst the NHS is pleading for people to stay at home, HS2 Ltd has kept many sites open where workers are not observing social distancing, reportedly living in shared accommodation and travelling from all over the country, risking the spread of coronavirus. The West Midlands is a hotspot for coronavirus deaths. HS2 Ltd and the government are putting the lives of construction workers, their families and other members of the public at risk for non essential and environmentally destructive work in a public health crisis.
Matt Bishop, Save Cubbington camp and said: “In the midst of a public health crisis HS2 are trying to starve people out of trees who are protecting ancient woodland, which is due to be felled as part of a project which does not have public support and is facing a legal challenge. We had to build a tower and get a cable line into one of the trees in order to get food to them.”
Gail Bradbrook, Extinction Rebellion co-founder, said: “It’s shocking that HS2 is continuing in the midst of coronavirus, the climate and ecological emergency and public outcry. This is not just a fight for over a hundred ancient woodlands, for badgers, bats and countless other endangered and protected species, it is a fight for a just approach to investing our money sensibly, especially at this time.”
Victoria Lindsell, Crackley local resident, said: “I cannot bear to see nature being destroyed or the corruption. We are here to bring justice, to make a stand and change the system that we live in so we can be a more caring society and we can live together and bring nature back to how it should be. HS2 are putting everybody at risk every day, collecting together, going into welfare hubs, socialising, going into Warwickshire and spreading the virus locally, and then going home all over the country and re-spreading it.”
Chris Packham and Leigh Day solicitors – backed by the Rethink Hs2, an alliance of environmental organisations including Extinction Rebellion – are seeking an urgent injunction to halt all clearance and construction works and then a judicial review of the decision to allow HS2 to go ahead.
A growing number of MPs are joining the call for HS2 to be halted and money diverted to benefit the health service. HS2 is the most expensive and destructive project this country has ever seen.
Extinction Rebellion is calling on Boris Johnson to put an immediate stop to HS2 and divest in HS2 and invest to protect communities, public health and nature.
Notes to editors
Larch is available now for telephone / video interview (contact number at top of press release)
Watch HS2 in a minute at HS2rebellion
HS2 is the most expensive and destructive infrastructure project in Europe, set to destroy almost 700 wildlife sites, is incompatible with the UK’s Net Zero emissions goal and will enable large-scale airport expansion
Campaign by environmental organisations including The Woodland Trust and the Wildlife Trusts, Greenpeace, the Ramblers, WWF, Client Earth, RSPB and the Friends of the Earth and Extinction Rebellion calling for the government to rethink HS2.
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