HS2: Is it any wonder our young people take to non-violent direct action?

Euston Square Gardens

Euston Square Gardens under HS2 eviction - Credit: Dorothea Hackman

Our nightmare neighbour High Speed 2 is “a judge in its own cause”: Assurances of mitigations for all the damage they do to our community and up the line were given to parliament before the bill was passed in February, but HS2 are the ones to receive complaints and they brush them off. And their owner, the Department of Transport are equally dismissive. Weeks or months later the matter could go to a Commissioner, but the damage is already done.

So there is no way to hold HS2 to account over assurances. Camden Council has only just reported two possible breaches after residents have endured a year and a half of appalling demolitions, and HS2 has decided to cut down all 500 trees in the Adelaide Road Woodland – a Grade 1 site of importance for nature conservation (SINC) instead of the three hundred they told the House of Lords. And they haven’t completed the legally required tree and ecological surveys and they don’t even have a bat licence. How will they restore the 200 year old site if they completely destroy it?

HS2 are also required to restore Euston Square gardens to us – which they think they can do with a few saplings left to die in concrete tubs as replacement for our mature trees. They are stripping Euston of trees and green spaces for subsequent developer profit it would seem. Our children should not have to grow up in pollution, noise and chaos without mature trees. The pandemic lockdown is only made worse for them with their playgrounds taken as construction compounds.

Dorothea Hackman, Camden Civic Society

Dorothea Hackman is fighting to save the Euston Square trees from HS2 - Credit: Dorothea Hackman

The people of Camden have long since exhausted the democratic processes before welcoming the tree protectors last August, yet the nightmare just goes on. At the community meeting on December 17 all the demands for HS2 to stop cutting down our trees were supported, and 300 people so far have signed the petition: you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-euston-trees-from-high-speed-2

But HS2 have just brushed this off and ignored our representations as they always do.

The HS2 Tree Panel agrees for itself to cut down eleven Euston Square Gardens trees to build another taxi parking area. Despite us arguing for the Tree of Heaven nearest the War Memorial to take its chances of surviving them raising the ground level, they have instead cut it down in case it dies. Is it any wonder that our young people take to non-violent direct action to bring attention to the HS2 destruction and traffic havoc.

Please take your daily exercise singly and in pairs and go and observe the actions of the bailiffs and police sent in by HS2 and the government. Observe Covid regulations and keep everyone safe. If you need to stay at home you could instead contribute to our fundraiser gofundme.com/f/25c4b0w040

Keep the evictors honest by watching what they do: they take warm clothing and water from protestors on tree platforms and roofs leaving them exposed all night in freezing temperatures. We would rightly criticise other nations for human rights abuses like this. The youngsters in their tunnel  are kept awake and have their safety threatened by noisy heavy machinery. Why aren’t the evicting forces listening to the advice of tunnel rescue experts instead of endangering lives?

And that other expensive unmotivated infrastructure project that will undermine efforts to reduce carbon emissions: the new Edmonton incinerator – it seems our councillors believe that heat and energy from burning recyclables and plastic is state of the art technology and it is reasonable to compromise climate targets and the health of deprived communities with emissions with national overprovision of incinerators.

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The HS2 spokesperson said without irony that the Euston Square Gardens protest  tunnel “is costly to the taxpayer and a danger to the safety… of the general public” – which is exactly the problem with HS2 itself.

  • Dorothea Hackman is chair of Camden Civic Society.