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HS2 Ltd respond to Monday's protests

Earlier in the week a series of blockades were set up in front of compounds by those against the railway.

Published by Scarlett Bawden-Gaul at 5:49am 7th May 2020. 4-minute read.

HS2 Ltd respond to Monday's protests

The company behind HS2 have criticised protesters' actions earlier this week. 

On Monday, 17 blockades were set up across the HS2 route, including here in Buckinghamshire. 

The entrance to the Steeple Claydon compound was blocked by several protesters.

nhs not hs2

Caroline Thomson-Smith was among them and said the construction is an immediate threat and cannot be put back because of lockdown:

"In Steeple Claydon there are many special areas that we will loose and cannot be replaced. Ancient woodland cannot be replaced once it is removed. 

"Natural England are the government authority that issue the licenses and should be monitoring the works. Natural England at this time have closed because of lockdown which means that HS2 workers are operating entirely unmonitored."

However, HS2 Limited have criticised the group for continuing to protest during the lockdown. 

They have highlighted the government gave them permission to continue with their construction work. 

In a statement provided to Mix96 a HS2 spokesperson said:

"The Government has given the green light to start building Phase One of HS2, which will generate thousands of jobs across the country and create 400,000 contracts opportunities, many for British small businesses. This is an important investment in the UK's future as we recover from the pandemic. During the current health crisis, the actions of these Extinction Rebellion protesters have put our workers and the public at risk, and the emergency services under unnecessary strain.

"All leading environmental organisations agree that climate change is the biggest threat to wildlife and habitats in the UK. By providing a cleaner, greener way to travel, HS2 will help cut the number of cars and lorries on our roads, cut demand for domestic flights, and help the country's drive to a net zero carbon economy. We'd urge all green groups to help us in getting people out of their cars, off planes and onto low-carbon, high speed rail."

The company have said despite challenges from the nature of construction work, they have implemented a series of measures to respect social distancing and lockdown restrictions. 

Some of these include:

  • Staggering start and end of shifts
  • Temperature checks and hand washing on arrival on site
  • Extra hand washing and hygiene facilities
  • Additional PPE available as required
  • One person per vehicle
  • Operatives requested not to use public transport - should walk, cycle or drive instead

On the issue of social distancing Caroline explains that the blockade she attended respected the rules:

"The area I protested in is local to me, and travel was well within the time I spent exercising, we kept 2 metres apart and we wore PPE throughout. We exercised absolute social distancing and kept entirely within the COVID guidance.

"Interestingly we have footage of HS2 workers while we were at the protest not exercising social distancing and we weren't wearing PPE. So it seems to me the guidance was being quite partially by the police who attended. When we were warned by the police who attended we dispersed but we operated completely within the guidance."

hs2 bloackade

Caroline believes the damage this railway is doing includes moving forestry and soil at the incorrect time of year and destroying natural habits and woodland in an irreversible way for temporary roads.

However, when asked she said that HS2 Rebellion would be happy to have a formal meeting with HS2 Limited in order to try and explain the devastating consequences these people fear.

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