CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

‘Cumberbatch tree’ falls to HS2 chainsaw

Campaigners continue treehouse occupation

02 October, 2020 — By Tom Foot

The tree was fenced off and cut down [All site photos: Simon Lamrock]

ONE of the last remaining mature trees in Euston was hacked down with a chainsaw as part of the High Speed 2 works on Sunday.

The felling, at the junction of Euston Road and North Gower Street, was within earshot of an environmentalist protest camp set up by the HS2 Rebellion group nearby.

The tree, which is near the Speedy’s Cafe that featured in the BBC’s Sherlock series and affectionately was named after actor Benedict Cumberbatch by campaigners.

“They didn’t need to cut down that Sherlock tree,” said Dr Larch Maxey. “We couldn’t stop it but our protest is going really well. More people are coming to the camp everyday. We are here to defend the park together.”

Several mature planes in Euston Square Gardens have won a stay of execution because of the HS2 Rebellion group, whose members have been living in the trees now for four weeks.

The tree was named after Benedict Cumberbatch

Dr Maxey, who insists he will not leave his tree until the £106 billion HS2 railway is stopped, said: “53 trees were originally due to be cut down by HS2, now they are saying one. That’s just the start. There are hundreds of trees up and down the line that need protecting.

“There is loads of scientific research about nature deprivation that shows when people don’t have access to green space it leads to all sorts of abuse, attainment, violence. They completely felled St James’ Gardens, now we are saying enough is enough.”

HS2 Rebellion is gearing up for the colder months by turning its “tree palaces” and summer-style hammocks into “winter ready” tree houses with wooden walls and roofs. HS2 Rebellion is campaigning against its damage to the environment along the line to Birmingham.

Despite spiralling costs and delays of almost 10 years, the project has been consistently backed by Labour and Conservative MPs in the House of Commons. Camden is one of the worst affected areas and is facing two decades of demolition and disruption.

Dr Larch Maxey consoles fellow campaigners, below

Dr Maxey said: “There is no way HS2 is going to get completed. At some point in five years, someone is going to make that difficult decision. “I would be willing to die for this cause, because what I see coming down the line is so horrific.”

HS2 Ltd said: “We understand the importance of trees to residents in Camden and will use all reasonable endeavours to reduce impacts on them where possible, and to retain trees in the borough. This includes planning construction works so that we can retain trees for as long as possible and providing replacement trees to help mitigate for the loss of each tree removed as a result of HS2 works.”

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