ECO warriors who are risking lives after digging a “dangerous” 100ft tunnel to stop them being thrown off an HS2 protest camp are today being evicted from their makeshift site.
The group set up camp in trees outside central London’s Euston station in September to protest against the £106bn rail scheme.
Police enforcement officers move in to the encampment in Euston Square GardensCredit: PA:Press Association
Police officers watch a woman standing on top of a lorry blocking the trafficCredit: PA:Press Association
Officers can be seen preparing to take down the tree housesCredit: Aaron Chown/PA
Eco warriors have dug a tunnel near Euston Station to stop being evictedCredit: BBC
The anti-HS2 group say the tunnel, nicknamed Kelvin, will stop them being booted out of their campCredit: BBC
They claim their tunnel – nicknamed Kelvin, and near the busy Euston Road – took two months to dig and is their “best defence” to thwart eviction.
But protesters have admitted the tunnel suffered a “big collapse” after heavy rain while under construction.
And bailiffs have this morning moved in to start to evict the activists with a HS2 spokesperson said the group were trespassing on land that the company owns.
A spokesperson added: “The protests are a danger to the safety of the protestors, our staff and the general public.”
Officers were this morning seen putting on harnesses to be able to go into the trees filled with treehouses.
One 18-year-old activist called Blue admitted to the BBC: “It is all very dangerous and life-threatening, but it is all worth it.
“This is the only way I can effect change, I would sacrifice everything for the climate ecological emergency to not be happening.
“We want to be as safe as possible. It is not about us martyring ourselves, it is about delaying and stopping HS2.”
Veteran protester Swampy has joined the group who have burrowed into the earth.
An HS2 Rebellion spokesman said members “worked around the clock”, using pickaxes, shovels, buckets, on shifts of 2-12 people at a time to dig the tunnel.
Shocking footage shows activists showing off the makeshift secret tunnel shaft with a wooden ladder leading underground.
Flimsy wooden posts are seen propping up tonnes of earth in the subterranean lair, right in the heart of central London.
One hippy in a head lamp boasts the tunnel goes off “in all sorts of directions”.
A young protester seen squeezing through a tiny gap in the makeshift shoring admits “it’s quite tight to get through”.
Tents are seen set up at Euston station Credit: Aaron Chown/PA
A makeshift tree house was madeCredit: PA:Press Association
Rebellion, an alliance of groups and individuals campaigning against the planned high-speed railway, has descended on the siteCredit: Aaron Chown/PA
Police could be seen walking through the siteCredit: PA:Press Association
Flimsy wooden posts are seen propping up tonnes of earth in the subterranean lair, right in the heart of central LondonCredit: PA:Press Association
Veteran protester Swampy has joined the group, which says the tunnel has taken two months to createCredit: BBC
They admit that the tunnel needs shoring up to keep them safeCredit: BBC
Another man in a high-viz jacket admits: “The shoring up is really important to keep us safe.”
One of the burrowers says hopefully: “We’ve made it as safe as we can, I think” as they shovel earth with a spade.
A spokesman for the protesters claimed local people “pitched in to help”, with fortified barricades erected around the tunnel’s complex entrance.
A “pallet fortress” gave the tunnel diggers a warm place to sleep between shifts.
Tunnels were shored up with wooden joists and boards to prevent collapse.
It is all very dangerous and life-threatening, but it is all worth it.
‘Blue’, an HS2 tunnel protester
Activists live in a main chamber, with supplies tins of beans, packets of pasta and vegetables and water stashed throughout the tunnel network.
Homeless people have also flocked to the group’s campsite since it was set up.
In a video filmed below ground, one campaigner admits the tunnel caved in while under construction.
She said: “It all came in through the side and collapsed.
“Luckily, no-one was in here and everyone was fine and we just cleared all the dirt away and put up some better shoring along the walls so it wouldn’t happen again.
“It kind of reminds you how dangerous it is. I am putting my life at risk, and I wish I didn’t have to.”
Activists at the Euston Square Gardens tree camp had expected authorities to evict them before Christmas, but vowed to “stand our ground”.
The group has been camped out outside Euston station to protest the £106bn rail schemeCredit: BBC
A makeshift wooden ladder appears to lead the underground lairCredit: BBC
In a letter to HS2 last week, lawyers for the eco-protesters insisted the site was being “legally squatted” and that authorities must “adhere to the law should you seek to enter the site or evict anyone from the camp”.
The group’s legal firm claimed that under coronavirus regulations a ban on evictions was in place until February 21.
The group claims HS2 is the “most expensive, wasteful and destructive project in UK history”.
They say the project will “destroy or irreparably damage 108 ancient woodlands and 693 wildlife sites”.
And they claim HS2’s plan to build an aquifier in Colne Valley, West London, risks contaminating almost a quarter of the capital’s water supply.
They claim HS2 will ‘destroy or irreparably damage’ ancient woodlandCredit: PA:Press Association
The activists claim they are squatting legally and should not be evictedCredit: AP:Associated Press
But HS2 bosses insist seven million trees will be planted during phase one of the project and most ancient woodland will “remain intact”.
A spokesman for HS2 said the tunnel protests were “costly to the taxpayer”.
An HS2 Ltd spokesperson said: “To ensure HS2 is able to deliver its major benefits to the UK on time, certain works must take place at designated times. HS2 has taken legal temporary possession of Euston Square Gardens East in order to progress with works necessary for the construction of the new Euston station.
“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 during a pandemic. The protestors are currently trespassing on land that is legally possessed by HS2.”
The Met Police said it was the responsibility of the landowners to evict trespassers but they could be on hand to keep the peace.
HS2 is set to link London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds with the hope the 20-year project will result reduce rail passenger overcrowding and boost the UK’s economy.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told MPs in September that the first phase of the high-speed rail link between London and Birmingham would not open until 2028 at the earliest.
The second phase, to Manchester and Leeds, was due to open in 2032-33 but that has been pushed back to 2035-40.
Anti HS2 protest banners at the campCredit: AP:Associated Press
They have been camped outside the station for monthsCredit: AP:Associated Press