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Protesters in ‘NHS not HS2’ demonstration outside Euston construction site

Paralympian James Brown occupies tree in peaceful protest against railway without 'rational justification'

04 May, 2020 — By Tom Foot

HS2 Rebelllion unfurl a banner in Hampstead Road 

AN “NHS not HS2” protest blocked lorries from entering the £100billion project’s construction site in Euston today (Monday).

HS2 Rebellion, a new campaign group, sent members to sit-down in the street in a peaceful protest in Hampstead Road, at the junction with Granby Terrace, and also in Starcross Street near the former Maria Fidelis School.

Works have restarted at the Euston construction site despite concerns from unions about workers’ safety. HS2 said last month it could press ahead with the project having paused works to consider public health guidance.

Paralympian James Brown, who climbed on top of a plane at City Airport last October as part of an Extinction Rebellion protest, was one of three demonstrators to “occupy” a tree in Starcross Street.

The environmental campaigner said: “To see HS2, the most carbon-intensive infrastructure project in Europe, being pushed forward by the Government at this time is infuriating. There’s no rational justification for it.

“I know the power wielded by HS2 is enormous because of the apparent bottomless money pit that underpins the project, but I also know of the determination of the very many who are opposed to it.

“I cannot sit back and watch this without taking action. I’m going to do all I can to prevent this insane project from going ahead.”

In Hampstead Road, protesters help up a black banner warning “NHS not HS2!” as part of a series of protests at HS2 sites across the country.

“The group said its protest was in line with social distancing policy and one member said: “Our nurses and doctors are without PPE, yet these workers can continue because the government deems them key workers Our real key essential workers are without PPE because of projects like this.”

A spokesman for the Metropolitan police said officers were called around 7am to the protest with the British Transport Police. No arrests were made.

An 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 small businesses – an important investment in Britain’s future as we recover from the pandemic. Encouraging the harassment of our staff for doing their jobs, alongside dangerous and costly protests and damage to our work sites, is unacceptable.

“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.”

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