Extinction Rebellion sets sights on HS2 project

Extinction Rebellion are camping out in trees in Colne Valley to the north-west of London to prevent them being felled for the HS2 development.

Twelve people scaled the trees on Harvil Road in the London Borough of Hillingdon close to the nature reserve to protect them from the chainsaw.

The felling had been due to take place between 8am and 6pm on Saturday and Sunday, but could not commence due to the presence of the protesters and strong winds.

The climbers are due to descend after 6pm today and return tomorrow morning.

Jo Rogers, spokeswoman for Extinction Rebellion, said: “Given strength of wind, (we’re) beginning to be concerned for climbers. So far they’re all happy and warm in blankets.”

She told the Press Association the group are concerned about the scale of tree-felling in the Colne Valley while the future of the HS2 rail project is still in doubt.

“(HS2) hasn’t even got planning permission for the whole line. We’re concerned that they are doing these things far sooner than they should be.”

Sarah Green, of local campaign group Save Colne Valley, said it would take at least 20 days for further road closures to be approved to allow the felling to take place.

“There’s no talking to HS2. They’re carrying on with no planning permission and no real plan.”

She estimates at least 2,000 trees have already been cleared from nearby sites by subcontractors to HS2 in the last month.

Save Colne Valley also fears that the process of pile driving deep holes into the aquifer risks contaminating the water supply for 3.2 million Londoners.

Ms Green said: “We the customers must become the custodians in the absence of responsibility by our elected representatives.

“Pure water supplies for life and a sustainable future are essential. We have to act now.”

The park itself encompasses 43 square miles stretching from Rickmansworth in Hertfordshire to Staines, Surrey, and the banks of the Thames in the south, Uxbridge and Heathrow, in Hillingdon, in the east and Slough, Berkshire, in the west.

It has 200 miles of rivers, canals and over 60 lakes, according to its website.

Sian Cox, 54, from Brecon, said: “Extinction Rebellion was the first time I was arrested and this is my first time at a protest site.

“The fight we have on our hands is to change the system that puts short-term economic growth ahead of the health of the biosphere we all rely on for life. We are killing our host, and this tree is a symbol of that for me.

“The only thing that works in a system that does not want to change is non-violent action like this.”

Manu Frosh, 41, said: “It is important that we protect our world. If I’m up a tree they can’t cut it down, and if enough people take this action they may realise people’s lives are more important than fast trains.”

HS2 has been approached for comment.