HS2 protests take place in Bucks during national day of action

Online and in-person protests took place all day across the country

By James Lowson
Tuesday, 25th January 2022, 10:49 am
Updated Tuesday, 25th January 2022, 10:50 am

Environmental campaigners completed a series of protests in Bucks in opposition of the HS2 project yesterday (January 24).

Protesters organised a day of action at sites across the UK, including Great Missenden, in reaction to news the project could be expanding beyond Crewe.

Multiple protest groups coordinated a national campaign, as well as Great Missenden, campaigners spread their message in Manchester, Birmingham, and London.

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HS2 protests

National concerns regarding a HS2 extension relates to the environmental and ecological damage further railwork could cause across the nation.

The joint protest group which includes: Stop HS2 North, HS2 Rebellion, and other concerned unaffiliated residents, are also worried about swelling costs from the project.

As well as in-person messaging, protests were also organised on social media with campaigners using #HS2CostingTheEarth, #StopHS2, and #HS2Rebellion, hashtags to raise awareness.

Protesters claim the overall project could cost close to £200 billion, after initial estimates of £37 billion back in 2009.

Another protest banner

Among the reasons people are campaigning in Bucks is a desire to save the Leather Lane Oaks in the Chilterns.

Located in Great Missenden, the beauty spot is described by separate campaigners as a section of 99 oaks that provides a wildlife corridor to many species.

Campaigners advise that seven species of bats live in the woodlands including the rare, Barbastelle.

Protesters claim the overall project could cost close to £200 billion, after initial estimates of £37 billion back in 2009.

A previous London protest

Among the reasons people are campaigning in Bucks is a desire to save the Leather Lane Oaks in the Chilterns.

Located in Great Missenden, the beauty spot is described by separate campaigners as a section of 99 oaks that provides a wildlife corridor to many species.

Campaigners advise that seven species of bats live in the woodlands including the rare, Barbastelle.

Already, the protesters believe there has been a decrease in bat activity due to the corridor being fragmented.

A campaign spokesperson said: "Leather Lane is a deep sided holloway, a typical Chilterns Lane that descends the side of the Misbourne valley lined on it's south by a majestic oak avenue of 99 trees which were planted by Arthur Lasenby Liberty in the late 1800s.

"The oaks are a major landscape feature but are also provide a vital wildlife corridor for many species, particularly bats."

Specific HS2 Ltd plans to build an overbridge have angered campaigners who believe this threatens the rare habitat for bats.

The matter was discussed at a public meeting in the village yesterday evening at 7pm at the Great Missenden Memorial Hall.

A petition to save the oak trees, which was first launched in March 2021, received over 44,000 signatures and support from Sarah Green, the MP for Chesham and Amersham.

When discussing the wider objections a spokesperson for the national day of protest said: "The government has already revealed that HS2’s failed attempts at "mitigation" means the next part of the project will only focus on "replaceable habit".

"In other words, our rarest, most precious, precarious and vital habitats and ancient woodlands - which need the most protection - are in the greatest danger specifically because they are so irreplaceable.

"The financial costs of HS2 are now "out of control" having risen from an initial £37bn in 2009, up to £98bn last year. Lord Berkeley's Review in 2019 suggested it would cost over £110 billion.

"The former Chair of HS2, Terry Morgan, has admitted that "nobody knows" what HS2's final cost will be. Recent estimates suggest the final figure will be closer to £200bn.

"Following the cancellation of the North-Eastern leg of HS2 going from Birmingham to Leeds, there is no longer a business case for HS2 (if there ever was).

"The original projections for passenger numbers, modal shift, and financial return on investment have been exposed and demolished. Any pretence of “levelling-up” has now been abandoned."

HS2 Ltd disputes claims of rising costs, spilling out-of-control, as suggested by the campaigners.

Latest figures listed under a October 2021 Parliamentary report shows that phase one of the project is costing £44.6 billion.

HS2 says this meets the target cost of £40.3 billion and includes an additional retained contingency of £4.3 billion.

It also advises that phase two costs could range from £5.2 billion to £7.2 billion, which it believes is 'broadly similar to National Audit Office’s 2020 report.

A spokesperson for HS2 said:“The construction of HS2 is playing a vital role in Britain’s economic recovery from Covid-19, with over 20,000 people working on the project, tens of thousands of additional jobs supported through our supply chain, and hundreds of companies across the UK already benefiting from HS2 contracts.

"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 push to reduce carbon emissions and better air quality."

Environmental campaigners remain unconvinced by HS2 projects designed to show it's an environmentally-conscious project.

An HS2 Rebellion spokesperson, Adam, said: “This month HS2 announced plans to be net zero carbon by 2035.

"In reality what this means is that HS2 will use yet more public money to invest in carbon off-setting, so that it can continue the charade of selling itself as a green travel solution. But in fact HS2 is an unnecessary contributor to carbon emissions, which will shuttle a wealthy minority to new, purpose-built airport stations."

In response to environmental concerns raised HS2 sites the 33 square kilometres of new woodland it is creating between London and the West Midlands.

It cites further plans to plant seven million trees and shrubs as further proofs of its environmental responsibility.

HS2 values its 'woodland fund' at £7m, the grant scheme is supporting 25 projects and overseen by the Forestry Commission.

Protesters dismiss these efforts as 'greenwashing', a spokesperson for Stop HS2 North said: "Despite spending vast sums of public money on PR and greenwashing to try to promote HS2 as a green project, HS2's own figures show that it will never be carbon neutral during its 120-year lifespan.

"The UK government's own strategy commits us to Net Zero by 2050. HS2 actively harms our ability to achieve that."

Already, the protesters believe there has been a decrease in bat activity due to the corridor being fragmented.

A campaign spokesperson said: "Leather Lane is a deep sided holloway, a typical Chilterns Lane that descends the side of the Misbourne valley lined on it's south by a majestic oak avenue of 99 trees which were planted by Arthur Lasenby Liberty in the late 1800s.

"The oaks are a major landscape feature but are also provide a vital wildlife corridor for many species, particularly bats."

Specific HS2 Ltd plans to build overbridge have angered campaigners who believe this threatens the rare habitat for bats.

The matter was discussed at a public meeting in the village yesterday evening at 7pm at the Great Missenden Memorial Hall.

A petition to save the oak trees, which was first launched in March 2021, received over 44,000 signatures and support from Sarah Green, the MP for Chesham and Amersham.

When discussing the wider objections a spokesperson for the national day of protest said: "The government has already revealed that HS2’s failed attempts at "mitigation" means the next part of the project will only focus on "replaceable habit".

"In other words, our rarest, most precious, precarious and vital habitats and ancient woodlands - which need the most protection - are in the greatest danger specifically because they are so irreplaceable.

"The financial costs of HS2 are now "out of control" having risen from an initial £37bn in 2009, up to £98bn last year. Lord Berkeley's Review in 2019 suggested it would cost over £110 billion.

"The former Chair of HS2, Terry Morgan, has admitted that "nobody knows" what HS2's final cost will be. Recent estimates suggest the final figure will be closer to £200bn.

"Following the cancellation of the North-Eastern leg of HS2 going from Birmingham to Leeds, there is no longer a business case for HS2 (if there ever was).

"The original projections for passenger numbers, modal shift, and financial return on investment have been exposed and demolished. Any pretence of “levelling-up” has now been abandoned."

HS2 Ltd disputes claims of rising costs, spilling out-of-control, as suggested by the campaigners.

Latest figures listed under a October 2021 Parliamentary report shows that phase one of the project is costing £44.6 billion.

HS2 says this meets the target cost of £40.3 billion and includes an additional retained contingency of £4.3 billion.

It also advises that phase two costs could range from £5.2 billion to £7.2 billion, which it believes is 'broadly similar to National Audit Office’s 2020 report.

A spokesperson for HS2 said:“The construction of HS2 is playing a vital role in Britain’s economic recovery from Covid-19, with over 20,000 people working on the project, tens of thousands of additional jobs supported through our supply chain, and hundreds of companies across the UK already benefiting from HS2 contracts.

"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 push to reduce carbon emissions and better air quality."

Environmental campaigners remain unconvinced by HS2 projects designed to show it's an environmentally-conscious project.

An HS2 Rebellion spokesperson, Adam, said: “This month HS2 announced plans to be net zero carbon by 2035.

"In reality what this means is that HS2 will use yet more public money to invest in carbon off-setting, so that it can continue the charade of selling itself as a green travel solution. But in fact HS2 is an unnecessary contributor to carbon emissions, which will shuttle a wealthy minority to new, purpose-built airport stations."

In response to environmental concerns raised, HS2 sites the 33 square kilometres of new woodland it is creating between London and the West Midlands.

It cites further plans to plant seven million trees and shrubs as further proof of its environmental responsibility.

HS2 values its 'woodland fund' at £7 million, the grant scheme is supporting 25 projects and overseen by the Forestry Commission.

Protesters dismiss these efforts as 'greenwashing', a spokesperson for Stop HS2 North said: "Despite spending vast sums of public money on PR and greenwashing to try to promote HS2 as a green project, HS2's own figures show that it will never be carbon neutral during its 120-year lifespan.

"The UK government's own strategy commits us to Net Zero by 2050. HS2 actively harms our ability to achieve that."