Hartlepool HS2 activist aims 'as long as it takes' in camp to protect woodland from rail project

An environmental activist from Hartlepool is living in woodland as part of a campaign to stop the HS2 high speed rail line going ahead.

Thursday, 21st October 2021, 4:45 am

Eighteen-year-old Jessica Maddison is trying to stop the multi-billion pound project going ahead by camping in Wendover Woods, near Aylesbury, in Buckinghamshire, with the group Stop HS2.

She has spent the last year moving around a number of different camps where the route of the rail line is planned.

At Wendover activists have dug an underground tunnel and set up tree houses, a cage, and a 15 metre high tower on the site.

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Jessica campaigning at an environmental demonstration.

Action to evict them including the use of bailiffs has started, but Jessica said they are prepared to stay for as long as necessary.

She said: “We’re pretty well equipped and everyone that lives on camp knows what they are signing up for.”

Jessica, who attended Dyke House Academy, previously lived in a tunnel under Euston Square Gardens, in London, for 10 days as part of the HS2 protest.

An environmental activist at the Wendover camp. Picture PA.

She said: “HS2 is ripping through 108 ancient woodlands and 963 sites of wildlife in this country.

"It’s going to cost the taxpayer £230 billion. We believe that could be spent on something so much more valuable to working class people in this country than a railway line that they’re never going to be able to afford to ride on.

"There is better ways to spend that money that could really level up the north.”

Jessica, who previously took part in protests with the Extinction Rebellion environmental movement, added: “Hundreds of homes have been evicted and it’s destroying a lot of independent businesses.

"HS2 is never going to replace the economic destruction that they have created.”

An HS2 spokesman described the activists’ actions at Wendover Woods as “irresponsible” and accused them of wasting public money, putting their staff at risk and putting unnecessary strain on the emergency services.

They said: “The construction of HS2 is playing a vital role in Britain’s economic recovery from Covid-19, with over 20,000 people already working on the project and tens of thousands of additional jobs supported through our supply chain.”

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