Anti-HS2 protesters met with bailiffs in 100ft network of Euston tunnels

Anti-HS2 protesters have been met with bailiffs in tunnels dug near Euston station in London.

Environmental campaigners have dug an underground network beneath Euston Square Gardens to protect the green space which they claim will be built over with a temporary taxi rank before being sold to developers as part of plans for the high-speed railway.

HS2 Ltd has urged the nine protesters, who have spent the past eight nights in the tunnels, to leave “for their own safety”, with efforts ongoing to evict them.

One of the activists, Dr Larch Maxey, said bailiffs had dug a parallel “down shaft” over the past few days and had connected it to the protesters’ one, which is said to be 100ft (30m) long.

Undated handout video grab issued by HS2 Rebellion of a protesters removing earth during the construction of a 100ft tunnel network dug in secret under Euston Square Gardens in central London, which they claim is at risk from the HS2 line development. Issue date: Tuesday January 26, 2021.
Undated handout video grab issued by HS2 Rebellion of a protester inside the 100ft tunnel network

He said the bailiffs had begun “drilling” to remove one environmental campaigner, called Lazer Sandford, from a “lock-on” at the bottom of the down shaft.

A bailiff could be heard saying that they would attempt to get him out of the device by digging around it.

Dr Maxey described the lock on as a metal “arm tube” that was buried in concrete in the ground.

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HS2 protesters occupy trees in Euston

He said he was “concerned” about Mr Sandford getting tired through the night, but would “keep an eye” on him.

The bailiff said Mr Sandford had been given safety goggles, masks, ear protection and offered a fire blanket for dust.

“I’m going to give you about five minutes or so, just to digest what’s happening, if anybody tries to interfere with our works, we will push your arms away or whatever,” the bailiff said.

He also asked Mr Sandford to inform him if he wanted to release himself voluntarily.

Dr Maxey said bailiffs had paused in their efforts to remove Mr Sandford from the lock-on to put in place safety measures to remove water pooling around it.

“It’s being done safely so far, so we’re going to try and keep it that way,” he said.

HS2 Rebellion, an alliance of groups and individuals campaigning against HS2, has called on the government to scrap the “expensive, unpopular and destructive” scheme “before it is too late”.

They argued for a National Citizens Assembly to “lead the way out of the climate and ecological emergency”.

Police officers wearing climbing equipment move in to the encampment in Euston Square Gardens in central London, where HS2 Rebellion protesters have built a 100ft tunnel network, which they are ready to occupy, after claiming the garden is at risk from the HS2 line development. Picture date: Wednesday January 27, 2021.
Police officers last month wearing climbing equipment move into the encampment in Euston Square Gardens

Earlier this week, a High Court judge rejected a legal bid to halt efforts to evict the nine activists from the tunnels.

An application brought by Dr Maxey for an injunction requiring HS2 and others to cease operations was refused by Mr Justice Robin Knowles.

HS2 Ltd has said it has “legal possession” of the land and repeatedly urged protesters to leave “for their own safety” before they are removed by High Court enforcement officers.

A spokesman said: “After 72 hours Dr Maxey still hasn’t complied with the court judgment ordering him to provide information on the tunnels and occupants and, crucially, to exit the tunnel.

“HS2 continues to do all we can to end this illegal action quickly and safely.”

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