A councillor who sits on West Berkshire Council was arrested during a protest that aimed to disrupt work on HS2.

Councillor Steve Masters and 14 other activists staged the protest at a construction site near the M25 in Buckinghamshire, where a 10-mile tunnel for the high-speed rail line will soon be dug under the Chiltern Hills.

They blocked the entrance to the site at around 5.30am on September 14, by locking their arms into devices made of steel and concrete, known as lock-ons, and vowed to stay for as long as possible.

The 50-year-old Green Party councillor, who was on bail following a prior arrest, and seven other activist were arrested by Hertfordshire Constabulary over the course of the day.

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Cllr Masters said: “Even though it’s a tunnel and the train will effectively be hidden for 10 miles, the process of construction is still devastating to the local environment and to the aquifers below, that supply London with a large proportion of its water.

“The aim of this action was to highlight to potential damage to the aquifers that supply London.”

He added: “As an elected official I have a responsibility not only to my ward residents in Newbury and Speen, but also to campaign against wider social, economic and environmental issues that impact everyone.

“HS2 is a project that impacts us all, the grotesque cost will be felt for years to come, at the expense of essential services such as the NHS and adult social care.

“It will impact our natural world, destroying large swathes of our biodiversity and it will also fail to be carbon neutral for over 100 years.”

Two 2,000-tonne excavating machines, built in Germany, will be shipped to the UK later this year so they can be used to dig the 10-mile tunnel through the Chiltern Hills.

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A HS2 spokesman said there is no evidence to suggest that the project will have an impact on the quality of the drinking water. 

He added: “These protests are a danger to the safety of the protestors, our staff and the general public, and put unnecessary strain on the emergency services.

“All leading wildlife organisations agree that climate change is the biggest future threat to wildlife and habitats in the UK.

“By providing a cleaner, greener way to travel, HS2 will help cut the number of cars and lorries on our roads, cut demand for domestic flights, and help the country’s fight against climate change.

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“We’d urge environmental groups to help us in getting people out of their cars, off planes and onto low-carbon, high speed rail.

“Ensuring the continued supply of high quality drinking water from the Chalk aquifer is an absolute priority for HS2.

“We will continue to work closely with Affinity Water and the Environment Agency throughout construction to ensure any risks to water users and the environment are managed appropriately and in accordance with all relevant legislation.”

The first stage of the controversial project, due to be completed between 2028 and 2031, will connect London and the West Midlands, before the line extends to Leeds and Manchester.

HS2 was originally due to cost £56bn, but it is now expected to cost more than £106bn.