Anti-HS2 protesters in Staffordshire reach 46th day of resistance in underground tunnels
Protesters resisting HS2’s ecocidal and financially ruinous destruction of natural heritage are spending a record 46th day in a network of underground tunnels in Staffordshire.
Now into their seventh week underground resisting eviction, the anti-HS2 protesters have gone well beyond the previous record for most time spent underground in a tunnel protest.
The tunnels were dug under what was known as Bluebell Woods Protection Camp, near Swynnerton, ST15 0QS. This is the sixth tunnel eviction which has taken place on the campaign against HS2. Previous subterranean protests along the proposed route have lasted for 28 days in Wendover, Buckinghamshire and 31 days in Euston, London.
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.
Only one person has left the tunnel so far. Those still underground do not have access to the internet and are unable to share images from where they are. However, they do have occasional phone signal and have been able to pass messages to us saying they are in good spirits and remain resolute in their battle to challenge the government’s war on peaceful protest.
From the tunnel, an unnamed protester said: “We are happy and settled in. We don’t miss many material goods from above ground. We live a simple, stripped-back life down here. Except for the noise torture and sleep deprivation that HS2’s bailiffs are subjecting us to.”
He continued: “Morale is high, but we have all had our personal challenges to overcome. We are staying healthy, with plenty of water and an underground galaxy of vitamins. That said, confined spaces are not easy on the knees.”
Another protester added: “We are encouraged to stay because deforestation in the UK is planned to continue and the climate and ecological emergency jeopardises our futures. We hope to inspire a culture of resistance and need to hold the government to account. We are relying on our sheer willpower, determination and stubbornness. We aren’t going anywhere!”
Regarding the record, they said: “Breaking the record for most time underground in a tunnel protest is purely incidental. We stand on the shoulders of giants. What we are doing shows the lineage of radical culture and resistance against ecocide and authoritarianism.”
Another tunneller said: “We must act now to resist deforestation in the UK. I will not be intimidated by HS2 lawyers, no matter the personal cost. The climate and ecological emergency, and the role HS2 plays in exacerbating it, is too serious to be ignored.”
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.
There is also concern for an imminent judge’s ruling on a first of its kind mega-injunction, which has been described as “an affront to democracy.” HS2 is seeking an injunction to criminalise anyone who sets foot in an area covering approximately 33 square miles, which will last for two decades.
“Protestors are not the ones endangering other people’s lives. It is the government who are endangering everyone through projects such as HS2 which is destroying lives, livelihoods and threatening all our rights to exist by destroying precious eco-systems. It is those in government who are the real criminals, yet it is peaceful protestors who are increasingly being jailed,” said Nancy Livingstone, spokesperson for Bluebell Woods Protection Camp.
“The UN reported this week that we are “moving towards a global collapse scenario.” Now more than ever, we all need to be able to use our voices to call out for social progress and environmental justice. Instead, our government is trying to silence us,” said Adam, HS2 Rebellion Spokesperson.