Extinction Rebellion pleads with Prime Minister to stop HS2 due to coronavirus risks
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In a letter to the Prime Minister today, Extinction Rebellion UK, for the first time ever, is pleading, rather than demanding for an immediate stop to HS2 in light of the coronavirus emergency.  The letter also urges him to “protect our communities, public health and nature. Choose the NHS, not HS2. Please.” Extinction Rebellion is also asking people to write to their MPs in this time of crisis. 
The letter states:
“You’ve made some extremely difficult decisions so far, which we commend you for … Extinction Rebellion usually makes demands. But, as our lives are changing dramatically we are adapting how we work to. With this in mind, we are pleading with you to put an immediate stop to HS2.
“The construction industry needs greater clarity … At HS2, images are circulating of workers gathering in large groups on site, not practising social distancing, which is putting their lives and that of others at risk.  This is particularly concerning as HS2 is largely being prepared for in rural areas where high numbers of elderly residents are self isolating – with many of those being threatened with eviction from their homes. These construction staff .. have been brought in from all over the country risking the spread of coronavirus.
“We have no doubt that these workers want to be with their family and friends. Those that are calling for the stopping of HS2 do too … every moment of delay means lives are at risk from coronavirus and trees along the route are being chainsawed as we write.”
Most recently HS2 has ramped up clearance work during precious nesting season. This morning, HS2 destruction began at 6:30am with trees being chainsawed in Colne Valley, Uxbridge and later Welsh Road, Cubbington. Today more than 80 construction workers from all over the country were at a compound in Crackley, where lots of machinery was parked in preparation for the imminent felling of irreplaceable ancient woodland around Kenilworth.  Injunctions also start today on Broadwells, Crackley and Cubbington woods with fencing erected over the last few days, to prevent anyone witnessing wildlife crimes.
Dr. Angela Wilson, GP and a member of Doctors for Extinction Rebellion, says:
“Today I am angry as I witness the behaviour of HS2 workers not adhering to the government guidelines set down for every UK resident on Friday to protect life. These guidelines from the government have clearly not worked. Both my husband and I are doctors on the frontline of COVID-19, I’m currently updating my will to make provisions for my daughter.
“Why should I put myself at risk, to save lives when HS2 continues work, risking people’s lives needlessly. General Medical Council guidance tells me that I must speak up when there is a significant public health risk. HS2 is such a risk.
“Other ongoing construction work around our country will also be causing unnecessary transmission of the pandemic. Delaying a full lockdown is putting lives, the functioning of the NHS and the safety of its workers at risk. Please stop this insanity of business as usual now.”
It still remains that HS2 doesn’t have Notice to Proceed, faces legal challenges and is the most expensive and destructive infrastructure project this country has ever seen.
Notes to editors
 The Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP
10 Downing Street
London SW1A 2AA
24 March 2020
Dear Prime Minister,
As coronavirus takes hold of our day to day lives, people everywhere are calling out for clarity. You’ve made some extremely difficult decisions so far, which we commend you for. But we need you to go further to keep this country safe.
Extinction Rebellion usually makes demands of the Government. But, as our lives are changing dramatically we are adapting how we work too. With this in mind, we are pleading with you to put an immediate stop to HS2.
The construction industry needs greater clarity. You’ve put the nation in lockdown, but the construction industry has not been given clear guidance.
At HS2, images are circulating of workers gathering in large groups on site, not practising social distancing, which is putting their lives and that of others at risk. This is particularly concerning as HS2 is largely being prepared for in rural areas where high numbers of elderly residents are self isolating – with many of those being threatened with eviction from their homes. These construction staff, who are working in close proximity have been brought in from all over the country – risking the spread of coronavirus as they travel, on site and when they return home.
We have no doubt that these workers want to be with their family and friends. Those that are calling for the stopping of the HS2 project do too.
Please do not push ahead, every moment of delay means lives are at risk from coronavirus and trees along the route are being chainsawed as we write. Most recently HS2 has ramped up clearance work and everyday this is allowed to continue, more irreversible damage is caused during precious nesting season, with no one to bear witness to these wildlife crimes. It still remains that HS2 doesn’t have Notice to Proceed, faces legal challenges and is the most expensive and destructive infrastructure project this country has ever seen
Together our actions now need to address the combined crises we face – coronavirus, health, financial, climate and ecological – in a way that benefits the world so that life can thrive. Rather than putting more money into HS2, let’s protect our communities, public health and nature.
Choose the NHS, not HS2. Please.
On behalf of Extinction Rebellion UK
 What can you do?
HS2 and their contractors are highly irresponsible by continuing work at this time, contact HS2 Ltd (08081 434 434, online) HS2 contractors, your MP, and demand that HS2 stops all work now. Share your concerns on social media.
Sign new petition to halt works: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/300170
Please support our campaign to STOP this reckless and irresponsible ecocide and learn more here:: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/stophs2
Support the camps to defend the land and all life on it! Find out more here: https://stand4trees.uk
Report illegal work and wildlife crimes to the police, HS2 and tweet #HS2Evidence
Write to your MP, the HS2 minister and tell him about your concerns asap.
 Friday 20 March – HS2 construction workers not adhering to social distancing: https://www.facebook.com/401847960644025/videos/620248698707548/
Monday 23 March – Crackley Wood video of large groups of construction workers: https://www.facebook.com/XRebellionUK/videos/417450809110052/
Monday 23 March – No social distancing at all by HS2 workers: https://www.facebook.com/163618540321965/posts/3352054791478308/?sfnsn=scwspmo&extid=cYIhlQ7M8Ys8Id5J&d=n&vh=e
Friday 20 March – At Steeple Claydon watch at minute 03:18 as birds’ nests are found in trees that have been felled by HS2 https://www.facebook.com/401847960644025/videos/206093637322821/
 Crackley compound, machinery in preparation to fell ancient woodland https://www.facebook.com/401847960644025/videos/237619710710060/
HS2 is set to destroy over a hundred ancient woodlands and almost 700 wildlife sites. As well as costing the UK-tax payer well over £100 billion, the high speed rail project is already causing extensive and irreversible damage to the environment and will be a vast new source of carbon emissions for at least the next 120 years, as well as enabling mass airport expansion.
HS2 have repeatedly failed to produce risk assessments of their environmental impact, despite ongoing requests.
The Government must scrap HS2 immediately, instead using the money to improve and invest in local services and projects that adapt to the reality we face in this Climate and Ecological Emergency.
For more information visit: rebellion.earth/hs2-rebellion
About Extinction Rebellion
Time has almost entirely run out to address the ecological crisis which is upon us, including the 6th mass species extinction, global pollution, and abrupt, runaway climate change.
Societal collapse and mass death are seen as inevitable by scientists and other credible voices, with human extinction also a possibility, if rapid action is not taken.
Extinction Rebellion believes it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by their Government.
Extinction Rebellion’s key demands are:
1.Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
2.Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
3.Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.
●Find your local group.
●Check out the International XR website, with links to the French, German, Italian and UK websites.
●And while your time and energy are of most importance, if you are financially able to donate money, see our crowdfunder.
About Rising Up!
Extinction Rebellion emerged from the Rising Up! network, which promotes a fundamental change of our political and economic system to one which maximises well-being and minimises harm. Change needs to be nurtured in a culture of reverence, gratitude and inclusion while the tools of civil disobedience and direct action are used to express our collective power.
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