A group of environmental activists are living in trees as a protest

Sanjana Varghese
Monday 04 May 2020 08:30
news
(AFP via Getty Images)

In the UK, we’re nearly two months into lockdown, and the four walls of your house may be starting to look a bit too familiar.

But at least you’re not locked down in a tree – like some Extinction Rebellion protesters are. Since March, a group of extinction rebellion protesters have been living in trees in a forest, isolating like they’re one massive household.

The group is protesting the construction of the HS2 railway, which would go between London and Birmingham and is due to be built in phases over the next 10 years, and which would cut through Crackley Woods, in Warwickshire.

According to the BBC, these protesters have been camped out in the woods over the last six weeks, because they fear that many trees in these woods will be felled in order to construct part of the HS2 railway. They say that over the whole route of the railways, 108 ancient woodlands would have to be decimated.

Many of the first protesters were people who lived near the forest, as part of a local campaign group called Stop HS2. Eventually, protesters from groups like Extinction Rebellion joined them in the trees too. The person who owns the land had given them permission to do so before lockdown measures were announced.

There are roughly 20 small tents and camper vans around the area, with protesters chaining themselves to trees in order to stop them from being cut down. They’ve built tree houses so that they can see around a fence which has been built on the woodlands by HS2.

Despite lockdown measures, protesters said that they thought the protest was more important than ever. One of the protesters, who identified himself as Quercus to the BBC, said:

People's democratic right to protest and have their say has been taken away at this time.

Protesters are also asking why HS2 workers are continuing to go ahead with work on the project, even during lockdown. They allege that the workers are destroying birds’ nests in the forest, and that the enforcement officers hired by HS2 have not been following social distancing regulations during scuffles with protesters.

Despite lockdown measures, the government has given approval for construction to go ahead, and the Chief Executive of HS2 told the BBC that the project will be a crucial part of getting the economy back onto its feet as lockdown measures are eased.

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