Protesters block HS2 building sites during ongoing coronavirus lockdown

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Demonstrators blocked access to building sites for the HS2 high-speed railway in London in protest at construction work continuing during the coronavirus crisis.

The group, who call themselves HS2 Rebellion, claim the work is non-essential and that, by failing to stop during the lockdown, it is putting the lives of workers and their families at risk.

They say that health workers remain without personal protective equipment and that money used for construction projects should be channelled to such medical supplies instead.

The protesters said they were respecting social distancing guidelines by wearing gloves and masks and claimed the actions were part of their state-sanctioned daily exercise.

Demonstrators wore gloves and face masks and remained two metres apart throughout the protests.> Banners reading “NHS not HS2” intend to draw attention to the disparity of funding between new Government projects and the “chronic underfunding” of the NHS, the HS2 rebellion said.> The group says it has blockaded more than 20 other sites around the UK from London to Crackley Woods in Warwickshire.> Protests have also been carried out in the Colne Valley, where an HS2 compound has been blocked since March 3 by demonstrators asserting squatters’ rights at its entrance.> An online campaign dubbed Risky Business will see others take to social media to target other Government projects, including 5 Rivers, Flannery Plant Hire, Hartwood, Midlands Ecology and Adas.> It will run alongside the physical protests on Monday.> A statement said the group “wish to emphasise the public resistance to HS2’S destruction of our ancient woodland and wildlife habitats, and HS2’S failure to stop construction works at multiple sites breaching HSE Covid guidelines and exposing their workers, protesters, families and communities to unnecessary risk during a national health crisis”.

HS2 said it will deliver a railway that "respects" the natural environment through the creation of a "green corridor" along the route.

According to the company’s website, 3.4 square miles of new woodlands – made up of seven million trees and shrubs – will be created.

The company says that figure is more than double the amount affected by the project.