HS2 protesters force closure of works site in Steeple Claydon

Anti-HS2 campaigners Frank Mahon and Ivo Haest
Anti-HS2 campaigners Frank Mahon and Ivo Haest

HS2 have closed a works site near the Buckinghamshire village of Steeple Claydon after protesters worked around the clock to peacefully obstruct de-vegetation work due to take place.

HS2 have closed a works site near the Buckinghamshire village of Steeple Claydon after protesters worked around the clock to peacefully obstruct de-vegetation work due to take place.

HS2 vegetation clearance vehicle back in compound

HS2 vegetation clearance vehicle back in compound

Campaign group Anti-HS2 SOC (Save Our Countryside) have been taking the direct action since Monday 29 April, after previous tactics of staging mass demonstrations and delivering a petition with over 2,500 signatures to HS2 headquarters had failed to prevent work beginning.

After a stand-off the workers eventually retreated and Anti-HS2 SOC spokesman Frank Mahon declared “mission accomplished.”

Mr Mahon added: “It's a peaceful protest – we're here to stay.”

True to their word, the group have been ever present on the site.

On Tuesday 7 May, events appeared to reach a climax. Initially HS2 brought their tree and hedge removing vehicles out to the field, apparently intent on continuing the de-vegetation work.

Mr Mahon immediately placed himself in front of the vehicle. When the workers inquired as to whether he intended to stay there, the protester responded “yes.”

The result was that by the end of the day, not only were the vehicles back in their depot, but signs warning road users and pedestrians of the work taking place had been removed.

On Wednesday morning, a low loader haulage truck was spotted by protesters removing the works vehicles from the site altogether,.

Mr Mahon said: “I believe the site has been shutdown. We've won the battle but we haven't yet won the war.”

We asked HS2 for comment and a spokesperson provided the following statement:

“We understand some communities along the route are concerned about activity in their area and we are working closely with them, and the local council, to minimise the impact of our works.

“HS2 gained Parliamentary permission for works to go ahead in 2017. The works currently being delivered by HS2 Ltd are necessary to build the new railway, and are already supporting over 7,000 jobs through business in the supply chain. Any delay could incur additional cost and would not offer the UK taxpayer value for money.

“We would like to assure people that all our mitigation work complies with environmental standards, and we follow established best practice guidelines.”

We asked Mr Mahon about what the future holds. He indicated that he was unsure but said the group would “maintain low-level vigilence.”

And proving that even victories are not always without regrets, Mr Mahon joked in reference to the regular pastry deliveries that have kept the protesters fed:

“It's bye bye Betty's sausage rolls!”