United Kingdom

HS2 activists get caught in a stand-off with security officers at treehouse camp

Protesters living in treehouses to stop an area of woodland being destroyed by the HS2 rail project clashed with police and security officers on Thursday.

A line of private security guards became involved in a stand-off with the environmentalists they are trying to evict from the site.

Nearly half of the ancient Jones' Hill Wood near Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, is due to be destroyed to make way for HS2 this autumn, according to the Woodland Trust. 

Protestors camped in trees that they are trying to stop being felled at Jones' Hill Wood, near Aylesbury Vale in Buckinghamshire, one of the woodlands which is due to be affected by the building of HS2

A HS2 protester looks from her treehouse as the tree protection camp faces eviction by the NET

Protestors who are camped in trees they are trying to stop being felled at Jones' Hill Wood, near Aylesbury Vale in Buckinghamshire, one of the woodlands which is due to be affected by the building of HS2

The wood is credited as the inspiration behind Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr Fox and the author was a regular visitor there.

Around 15 of the 40 activists manned makeshift treehouses 60ft above the woodland floor, where Thames Valley Police made three arrests. 

Demonstrators, who range from teenagers to pensioners, have been fighting against the construction of the high-speed rail route through the wood for seven months – but evictions teams arrived to remove them yesterday morning. The mammoth rail project will see some 0.7 hectares of the 1.8-hectare site dug up.

Steve Masters, 50, a Green Party councillor on West Berkshire Council and the oldest protester camping in the tree canopy, said he had slept in the wood every night for the past three months. 

: A HS2 protester traverses the canopy as the tree protection camp faces eviction

A HS2 protester looks from her treehouse. Around 15 of the 40 activists manned makeshift treehouses 60ft above the woodland floor, where Thames Valley Police made three arrests

The 1.8 hectare beech wood, one of 108 ancient woodlands that are scheduled to be destroyed along the proposed HS2 route, is considered a habitat of principal importance and home to bats, badgers, tawny owls, and foxes

The activist said he wants his three grandchildren to 'grow up safe from the effects of climate change' which he believes 'will not happen if projects like HS2... are going ahead'.

The rail line will ultimately provide high-speed links between London Euston and Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.

But following a series of setbacks and delays, the initial £36 billion cost has now spiralled to £106 billion.

HS2 said in a statement: 'The land at Jones' Hill Wood is legally owned by HS2 and we need safe access to begin archaeology and ecology work.'

A spokesman for Thames Valley Police said: 'Our role is to ensure public safety, and facilitate a peaceful protest while at the same time ensuring HS2 Ltd's legal rights to carry out their work.'

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