HS2 Rebellion Euston tunnellers: ‘Public make us feel safer’
The group has lost its case in the High Court for a right to protest and ordered to leave
12 February, 2021 — By Bronwen Weatherby
Dr Larch Maxey
THE lead protester of a group living inside a network of tunnels dug beneath Euston Square Gardens in an attempt to stop the HS2 railway works said public support has made their eviction “a lot safer”.
Former geography lecturer Dr Larch Maxey, now a full-time climate change activist, was speaking two weeks into his subterranean occupation with fellow members of the HS2 Rebellion group.
He said that privately hired bailiffs had now built a tunnel parallel to theirs as the operation to remove them continues.
The group has warned that their tunnels are in danger of collapsing, depending on what steps the bailiffs take and any heavy work above ground.
But Dr Maxey said: “They’ve been saying ‘health and safety first’ since the Health and Safety Executive got on their case and since we’ve had this massive outcry of support. It makes a huge difference – this eviction is a lot safer thanks to all the people watching this.”
The group’s latest legal appeal for the right to peaceful protest failed in the High Court yesterday (Wednesday).
Vigil held for felled trees in support of HS2 Rebellion
A HS2 spokesperson said: “The decision of the court today is totally unambiguous – that HS2 Ltd is carrying out the eviction correctly and that the illegal trespassers are breaking the law and should remove themselves from the tunnel immediately.”
Dr Maxey showed no signs of emerging this week and said he was “delighted” as he felt the protest in the heart of London has brought a renewed focus on environmental issues.
Euston Square Gardens has been a key battleground after the felling of ancient trees around the station, although there have been similar flashpoints up and down the proposed lines.
HS2 reject accusations that the project will wreak havoc on the natural environment.
It is not clear exactly how many HS2 Rebellion members remain in the tunnel, but two of the protesters emerged over the weekend, including Lachlan “Lazer” Sandford.
‘Lazer’ Sanford led to ambulance after emerging from tunnel [SIMON LAMROCK]
He came up voluntarily on Saturday evening, leaving those still below ground – including his sister Blue – after it was claimed he had struck a deal with bailiffs to secure lights and sanitary products for them.
He was pictured being taken to an ambulance near the site. Later, he later was arrested.
He had come up for air on day 11 of the eviction after a two-day struggle to break him out of a “lock-on” – a concrete and steel cast used to attach himself to the bottom of the tunnel downshaft.
He appeared barefoot at Highbury Magistrates’ Court on Monday and was ordered not to interfere with or be present at any HS2 site as a part of his bail conditions.
On Friday, another tunneller named Rollie left the underground camp due to “ill health”.
Extinction Rebellion has kept up demonstrations around the park
Meanwhile, a candle-lit vigil for trees felled to make way for HS2 was held on Saturday.
One of the organisers, Dorothea Hackman, who has been protesting against HS2 in Camden for more than a decade, said: “Never let it be said that I never quaked or quavered or resiled – I step up.”
Today (Friday) marks the 17th day of activists being holed up underground.
It is now the longest UK tunnel occupation since the 40-day record set by protesters against the A130 Rettendon bypass in Essex in 2000.
Extinction Rebellion have continued to return to the site this week, with a number of demonstrations held above ground.
A second tunnel demonstration was said to be in progress in Highbury, where plans for new blocks of private and council housing have been delayed by protesters trying to stop seven trees from being cut down.