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Climate activists block entrances to large HS2 tunnelling site

XR brand the high speed rail project one ‘of greed not need’

CLIMATE activists blocked all entrances to a large-scale HS2 tunnelling site today morning, grinding construction work to a halt. 

Extinction Rebellion (XR) protesters erected bamboo structures to prevent workers accessing the 135-acre tunnelling site in West Hyde, Hertfordshire. 

Two giant tunnelling machines measuring 170m in length, designed to burrow through the chalk and flint under the Chilterns – an area of outstanding natural beauty – will be launched early next year at the site. 

The activists argue that the multibillion-pound project will destroy “irreplaceable” natural areas, while its construction would “delay any plans for the UK to reach net zero [emissions] by 2050.” 

Protesters held aloft banners reading: “Extinction is forever: Stop HS2,” echoing promises last month by PM Boris Johnson to introduce greater protections for natural areas. 

Ministers have touted the high-speed rail project as a way to bridge the north-south divide, generate thousands of jobs and provide a greener way to travel. 

British trains are far slower than counterparts in continental Europe, which ministers and trade unions say contributes to reliance on higher-polluting air travel.

But XR campaigner Daisy Pearson said: “During the decade of planning, communities in the north of England were never asked what they actually needed, but we’re all forced to share the £100bn-and-rising tax bill for a train the average person will never be able to afford. 

“HS2 hired 17 PR firms to sell the lie of affordable high speed rail and job creation to the public.”

A spokesperson from the group Rob Callender said: “HS2 is not a project of need but of greed.”

Activists also targeted other sites along the high speed rail route on Friday, including Euston station, Cubbington and Lichfield.

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