Socialist Worker

A weekend of protests— from treetops to river rigs

by Sarah Bates
Issue No. 2715

Activists of aerial rigs protesting the construction of Silvertown tunnel

Activists on aerial rigs protesting an attempt to fell a 600 year old tree  (Pic: Talia Woodin)


A weekend of action against climate catastrophe saw activists clamber up trees, board drilling rigs and occupy roads in London and the surrounding area.

Three Extinction Rebellion (XR) ­members locked themselves to a drilling rig on the River Thames to protest against the construction of the Silvertown Tunnel last Saturday. 

Construction is soon to begin on the new project, which is set to create yet another road link between the east London boroughs of Greenwich and Newham.

Rebels locked themselves to the rig and the keys were delivered to London mayor Sadiq Khan ­along with a letter asking him to address the protesters. 

Three people remained on the rig for 11 hours and were then arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass. 

Activists hung a banner ­declaring “No toxic tunnel” to draw attention to the way the new road route will cause environmental destruction and lead to an increase in air pollution. 

An XR ­spokesperson said, “We are immensely proud of our brave activists who are standing up for the respiratory health of local residents and the wellbeing of future generations.”

“The man with the power to stop this is Sadiq Khan. He has refused to listen to any of our legal means of appeal.” 

Activists also staged a procession through Greenwich to commemorate the “26 lives that are lost due to air pollution everyday in London.”

Local residents have fought for years against the tunnel, ­arguing that creating a new route for ­walkers and cyclists would be of more use to the community. 

Pollution

Activists opposing the construction of the HS2 railway were engaged in stand-offs with cops and eviction firms over the weekend.

Environmental activists ­suspended themselves from ropes attached to trees in an attempt to protect a 600-year old tree from being felled. 

The action at Denham County Park, Buckinghamshire, was the latest protest in the long-running battle that has seen activists living high up in trees for weeks at a time.

But they report that the National Eviction Team, a private firm that specialises in evicting protest sites, cut ropes holding activists and at least two plunged into shallow water below.

One protester was taken to hospital. “This is outrageous, they’ve just cut the line so my friend has fallen into the river,” said Larch from the treetops.

“We’ve been telling them for hours that they cannot touch the lines or they’ve fall and now they’ve cut it and someone has fallen.

“Everyone present—Metropolitan police, Thames Valley police, the ambulance service, the fire ­service, the HS2 workers—all of them knew,” he said.

Activists are continuing their battle to halt the project, which is set to cost at least £100 billion and will gravely damage the environment.

For information on where protection camps are based visit-https://hs2rebellion.earth/camp-locations/

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