CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

St Pancras priest chains herself to tree in protest against HS2

Vicar of St Pancras Church says devastation of Euston is "against all voices of reason"

12 January, 2018 — By Tom Foot

Rev Anne Stevens and Jo Hurford padlocked to a tree in Euston Square Gardens

A PRIEST shackled herself to a tree today (Friday) to symbolise the “powerlessness and anger” Camden people feel about High Speed 2.

St Pancras Church vicar Rev Anne Stevens was chained to a towering London plane tree in Euston Square Gardens along with campaigner Jo Hurford, from Euston, who was holding a handbag made out of letters to the New Journal about HS2.

The tree is one of dozens being felled in Euston to make way for the £57billion railway that this year is shutting down dozens of thriving businesses and forcing hundreds of people out of their homes.

The protesters were shackled with a thick chain and chunky padlock 

Rev Stevens told the New Journal: “We are here standing with the community in opposing the plans HS2 are imposing on this area. We are responding to the way it’s devastating local homes and businesses, to the way it’s changing the air quality – particularly for the children – the way it’s taking away our green spaces and our trees.

“I am not chained to this tree to disrupt the work of HS2. We are here as a symbol really, of powerlessness and anger – and one last chance for them to think again. I feel we made a protest, we signed the petition, we went to Parliament, to the House of Lords and the House of Commons select committees. This project was green-lighted from the beginning – against all voices of reason.”

The protest attracted the attention of the national print and broadcast media

Euston Square Gardens is being made into a temporary construction site by HS2 which this felled several mature trees in St James Gardens, which was shut for good by HS2 in September. Campaigners have in recent months tied scarves around the threatened trees, although the knitted neck-warmers keep mysteriously disappearing. 

HS2 Ltd,  the company in charge of the project, said the trees in St James Gardens had to come down so its archaeologists could get a clearer idea of how many bodies are buried in the former church burial ground.  Rev Stevens has criticised HS2 over its handling of the demolition of St James Gardens and last year staged a mock memorial service for the souls of the dead who are the responsibility of her parish. 

 

HS2 started axing trees in St James Gardens last week

A major exhumation process will begin in St James Gardens in the spring before several blocks of hotels, homes and businesses in Cardington Street, Euston Street, Drummond Street and Coburg Street are knocked down. HS2 Ltd is due to finish working in Euston in 2033. Despite the project being approved by Parliament this year, there are still no finalised designs for what the new terminus and surrounding area will look like.

HS2 said: “We recognise the importance of the trees and gardens around Euston to people living and working near the station and we are working with London Borough of Camden to ensure that all trees lost during construction are replaced and other open spaces in the local community are enhanced. Supporting the natural environment is just as important to us as building stations, regenerating city centres and supporting the economy.”

Rev Stevens  and Ms Hurford were unchained around 4.30pm today.  

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