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HS2 protesters: We’ll stay in tunnel for weeks

Eviction attempt at protest camp becomes long-drawn out operation

28 January, 2021 — By Bronwen Weatherby

HS2 Rebellion demonstrators say they are determined to stay on site

DEMONSTRATORS predicted last night (Wednesday) that it could take weeks to evict them from a HS2 protest camp near Euston station after they revealed a secret “tunnel” dug out over three months.

Hundreds of bailiffs and Metropolitan Police officers are said to have stormed into Euston Square Gardens at around 3am, managing to drag some campaigners away from the park.

Most of the HS2 Rebellion activists, however, managed to climb into treehouses or down into the tunnel to avoid being removed.

The camp has been in place since August and formed in protest to the £106billion government-backed High Speed Two rail scheme, which has seen ancient and long-standing trees chainsawed or put at risk of being felled.

Camden is one of the worst-hit areas for HS2 disruption, with two decades of works planned. People around Euston have already been ordered to leave their homes and businesses, including the Bree Louise pub, which has been flattened.

Dr Larch Maxey reveals the tunnel [HS2 Rebellion]

Thousands of bodies, meanwhile, have been exhumed from a burial ground.

Just hours before the eviction attempt, the group had revealed the creation of the tunnel which they said stretches to 100 feet and they said they had codenamed “Calvin”.

The entrance has been concealed by a tower built from pallets, affectionately nicknamed “Buckingham Pallets”.

From 10am onwards attention was turned to those camped out in the trees, with climbing specialists trying to reach the branches in cherry pickers.

When the tree protesters stayed put, the officers began dismantling the den from around them.

The protesters eventually came down one by one amid singing, applause and cries of “illegal eviction” from supporters on the ground. As the protesters are said to be “trespassing”, a civil matter, all were let go without charge.

Performer and artist Jimbino Vegan was one of the protesters escorted out of the trees having joined the group from the early morning. He said: “I sensed that had we stayed any longer they would have got aggressive with us and we didn’t want that – we’re peaceful protesters.”

Asked how long their fellow activists in the tunnel were planning to stay underground, another campaigner said: “Well their record is six weeks and they’re trying to beat that. It is cosy down there, they’ve got room, supplies, and the ability to dig further and to lock on [to the ground], so hopefully they will be down there a while.”

Operations continued as darkness fell [Simon Lamrock]

She added: “Publicity isn’t about making celebrities of individual activ­ists, it’s about portraying HS2 in the negative light it deserves to be in as it’s detrimental to the environment and detrimental to the economy.”

Dr Denise Baker, a journalist protester and one of the members who was pulled out of the park as the eviction process began, said: “What we need now is for more people to come down, show their support, and put their necks on the line. The people who are down in that tunnel are not crusty anarchists. “You’ve got at least three doctors down there, a geologist, environmental lecturers. They are people committed to our country and our planet.”

The camp is surrounded and, below, a protetser is led away [Both: Simon Lamrock]

She added: “When you think about our native wildlife [and] the fact this is costing taxpayers £6,500 each. “We’re all making a stand about something that’s going to impact everybody.”

Blue Sandford, one of the protesters inside the tunnel, said: “HS2 is a waste of money and time, and by the government’s own admission will be heavily polluting and carbon intensive while demand for mass transit is falling and home working is the new norm for many people.”

The 18-year-old added: “I’m angry that the government is still effectively ignoring this crisis despite declaring a climate and ecological emergency two years ago. I’m in this tunnel because they are irresponsibly putting my life at risk from the climate and ecological emergency.

The entrance to the tunnel known as ‘Buckingham Pallets’

“They are behaving in a way that is so reckless and unsafe that I don’t feel they are giving us any option but to protest in this way to help save our own lives and the lives of all the people around the world.”

Police said last night that four men and a woman had been arrested. Another man was held but later de-arrested.

The Met said officers were assisting High Court enforcement officers in the event of breaches of the peace or Covid legislation.

Demonstrators avoid eviction teams by climbing trees [Simon Lamrock]

Operations to evict all the protesters in the trees looked set to continue throughout the night.

A HS2 spokesperson said: “Illegal action such as this is costly to the taxpayer and a danger to the safety of the activists, HS2 staff, High Court enforcement officers and the general public, as well as putting unnecessary strain on the emergency services during the pandemic.”

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