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HS2 protest camps 

© Emily Graham

These photographs were made in and around the HS2 protest camps in Bluebell Woods, near Swynnerton, Staffordshire. Environmental protesters have occupied the site of Bluebell A for the last year, in opposition to the destruction of ancient woodland that HS2 (due to run through the site) will cause. They have built a tree-house home there, alongside what was a visitor centre, elevated look out structures, and a tunnel system underground. The structures are built in a layered way, so as to deliberately make it difficult for them to be removed.

The land of the site of Bluebell A was recently injuncted by HS2, and the site under a slow siege for over two weeks prior to the eviction beginning, surrounded from dawn until dusk by bailiffs, with the protestors on site confined to the treehouse.

As of 10th May the site eviction is in process, with protestors occupying treetops and subterranean tunnels, making it difficult to locate individuals to remove them from the site. Once underground, the protesters continue to dig, setting off something like a game of cat and mouse between the protesters and the bailiffs. During the HS2 protest in Euston, the longest lasting protester spent 31 days underground.

Bluebell B, the sister site a mile down the road which was created once the injunction at Bluebell A began, is also now under siege, where protestors have been fenced in, surrounded, unable to leave and re-enter.

The photographs detail the temporal structures that occupy the land; the recycled and repurposed materials used to create a fortress of political resistance, and the ways in which surfaces, structures, and bodies are used as barriers and expressions of opposition.

High Speed 2 (HS2) is a high-speed railway line that is under construction in the United Kingdom with the new track stretching from London to Birmingham, the East Midlands and North West England. The railway will be the country's second purpose-built high-speed line, the first being HS1, the connection from London to the Channel Tunnel. Dedicated high-speed HS2 track will serve three cities (London, Birmingham and Manchester), plus Crewe as well as Manchester Airport and Birmingham Airport.

At its southern end the line terminates at London Euston, while the northernmost point is at Golborne, near Wigan, west of the Pennine Hills, where trains progress onto the conventional rail West Coast Main Line to Scotland.

There are to be seven branches off the spine. Two large junctions are planned, at Millington east of Warrington and Water Orton near Coleshill east of Birmingham. The junction at Millington will take HS2 trains in three directions. The first exit from the junction is west towards Warrington on Northern Powerhouse Rail track and on to Liverpool on conventional rail, the second exit is north towards Golborne where HS2 trains run onto the West Coast Mainline destined for Carlisle, Glasgow and Edinburgh, and the third is east towards Manchester via Manchester airport. The junction at Water Orton near Coleshill will take HS2 trains to the east of the Pennines as far as East Midlands Parkway station. From there, HS2 trains will proceed north on conventional track to the cities of Derby, Nottingham, Chesterfield, Sheffield, Leeds and Newcastle.

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