Protectors at the two Bluebell Woods camps near Swynnerton in Staffordshire have come under siege from bailiffs as efforts to drive them out of the area escalate.
The woodland, just south of Stoke on Trent, is slated for destruction as part of the controversial high-speed rail mega-engineering project’s Phase Two preparations and has been contested for more than a year by protectors in two camps, A and B.
Camp A, the older of the two, was served an eviction notice in March and was invaded on Tuesday by a small army of around 100 bailiffs. The camp contains an underground tunnel network where several protectors have been hunkering down, however as a matter of safety an air supply and relevant equipment are needed. According to protectors both of these have been denied to the tunnel occupiers for the last three days. Communicating from inside the tunnel, one said:
“The tunnel team have asked for safety equipment to perform a potential rescue if anything goes wrong. This is basic kit – a tripod and an arrest fall kit. HS2 have decided not to action that request at this time. HS2, directed by Glen Payton, are deliberately trying to starve us of air.”
“We lose 0.5% 02 every metre we go into the tunnel so where people are sleeping are there are very low levels of oxygen. HS2 are refusing safety equipment to us and the equipment needed to perform a rescue. We are understandably frustrated, but in good spirits and resolute to keep resisting the national catastrophe that is HS2.”
Multiple complaints have been lodged with the Health and Safety Executive over the last couple of days, with the watchdog being so inundated that they are now refusing to take further phone calls on the subject (though supporting evidence can be sent to [email protected]).
Protectors have occupied tunnels a number of times in a bid to halt HS2 in its destructive path. In January 2021 tunnels were occupied under Euston Square Gardens, in Lichfield in March 2021, and again in October 2021 when it took five weeks to evict people from tunnels near Wendover. During the eviction at Euston, the protestors were not supplied with air for the first 36 hours of the eviction. HS2 came under mounting pressure from concerned people, and eventually air was supplied.
Camp B meanwhile has set up here and has already come under siege. While HS2 has no claim to the land and cannot evict the protectors, they have control over the surroungding area and bailiffs have fanced and surrounded the site, trying unsuccessfully to block protectors from re-entering or supplying the people inside with food or water.
The protectors are asking for funds to help continue the fight, noting that evictions are expensive and render people homeless when their camps are destroyed. They are continuing to update on their situation on their Facebook page.
Pics courtesy of Bluebell Woods Protection Camp and Resist HS21