Socialist Worker

Anti-HS2 campaigners want money spent on NHS instead

by Sarah Bates
Issue No. 2703

HS2 rebellion activists block the street

HS2 rebellion activists block the street (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Climate catastrophe activists blocked HS2 construction on Monday morning as part of their rebellion against the hugely damaging high speed railway.

Activists from “HS2 Rebellion”—a group affiliated to Extinction Rebellion—blocked entrances to ­construction sites in London and Warwickshire. 

Small groups of activists held banners declaring “NHS not HS2” to draw attention to the huge cost in building and maintaining the new rail line, at a time when cash is needed for the health service. 

“HS2 Rebellion is calling for all work on HS2 to be halted, the project scrapped and the roughly £200 billion it is costing to be invested in the NHS instead,” said the group. They also highlighted that healthcare workers can’t even gain access to vital PPE that they need.

“HS2 Ltd is using the Covid-19 lockdown to push ahead with its most controversial and destructive work, endangering workers and the general public, whilst causing irreparable damage to nature.”

The direct action group claim that HS2 Ltd—which is overseeing the construction—is not undertaking basic social distancing and hygiene measures to keep their workers safe. 

Footage from the ­blockade near Kenilworth, in Warwickshire, saw one rebel heavily bleeding from the head and crouched on the ground. 

HS2 Rebellion said the activist was “punched ­repeatedly by a security guard” and dragged across the ground by HS2 workers.

Activist James Brown, who was arrested for allegedly climbing onto a drilling rig to stop it working, said, “I know the power wielded by HS2 is enormous because of the apparent bottomless money pit that underpins the project,

HS2—the high speed rail that’s a slow speed fail
HS2—the high speed rail that’s a slow speed fail
  Read More

but I also know of the determination of the very many who are opposed to it. 

Occupied

“I cannot sit back and watch this without taking action. I’m going to do all I can to prevent this project from going ahead.” 

Construction in the Colne Valley risks polluting an aquifer that supplies a fifth of London’s drinking water. The rebels in the area put up ­banners saying, “Protect London’s drinking water” as they occupied drills.

Rebels from around the country have travelled to set up protection camps along the route to stop the destruction of natural habitats. 

Haylie Marie, an NHS worker who lives at the Harvil Road camp, said, “Our NHS is underfunded and can’t supply basics for ­workers, yet HS2 continues. 

“It has to stop.”

The action comes a little over a year since the government declared a climate and ecological emergency. 

Yet despite warm words from the Tories, they continue to pour money into catastrophic projects like HS2.

HS2 construction should be stopped and the entire project should be scrapped in an effort to prevent climate chaos. 


Trump’s fossil fuel friends grab a bailout

Fossil fuels firms that make their cash from polluting the planet have grabbed millions more in aid during the coronavirus crisis.

A review by research group Documented and the Guardian newspaper found that $28 million went to three coal mining firms. 

All had ties to US president Donald Trump.

Hallador Coal, which hired Trump’s former environment chief Scott Pruitt as a lobbyist, grabbed $10 million. 

Coal mining firm Rhino Resources, formerly run by Trump official David Zatezalo, will also be cashing in $10 million.

Coal firm Ramaco Resources is getting $8.4 million. 

Its boss Randy Atkins is on the energy department’s National Coal Council.

The US Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act has so far paid out $2.1 trillion.

The amount of cash going to polluting industries is likely to go up. And Documented researcher Jesse Coleman pointed out that the information is based on “voluntary disclosures by the companies”.

“No matter what, it’s going to be an incomplete picture of what’s going on,” he said.


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