By Sarah Bates
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Activists battle eviction of anti-HS2 protest camp

This article is over 3 years, 2 months old
Issue 2740
The police move in
The police move in (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Environmental activists on Wednesday were battling attempts to evict them from an anti-HS2 protest camp in central London. 

Four protesters are occupying a 100-foot tunnel underneath a park in Euston. It’s a last-ditch effort to stop the area from being destroyed and turned into a taxi rank. 

Other activists, who are with the group HS2 Rebellion, scaled trees to prevent them being felled.

In the morning, scores of Met police and bailiffs arrived at Euston Square Gardens to begin the eviction.

Blue Sandford escaped to the tunnel when HS2 forces moved in under the cover of darkness.

“I’m angry that the government is still effectively ignoring this crisis despite declaring a climate and ecological emergency two years ago,” they said.

“I’m in this tunnel because they are irresponsibly putting my life at risk from the climate and ecological emergency. 

HS2—the high speed rail that’s a slow speed fail
HS2—the high speed rail that’s a slow speed fail
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“They are behaving in a way that is so reckless and unsafe that I don’t feel like 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 round the world.”

Activists spent months secretly digging the tunnel, which they nicknamed “Kelvin” to prepare to occupy the space when HS2 Ltd began the eviction. 

They hid the entrance to the tunnel at the centre of their protest camp in a construction of pallets and supplies, known to activists at “Buckingham Pallets”. 

HS2 Rebellion says that “tunnellers have worked round the clock” in shifts of up to 12 people at a time and are prepared for an extended stay inside underground and are fully stocked with food and water. 

The protest structure
The protest structure (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Protester Larch Maxey said from inside the tunnel that, “This eviction is due to go on for some time.”

“This is our big chance, with this eviction, to really turn things around, to stop HS2’s ridiculous, horrific scheme.” 

He called on people to build pressure against the high speed railway. 

“Check out what’s online, there’s loads of stuff you can do from home, and if you’re in London come watch what they’re doing, video them and keep them on their toes.”

Scrap HS2 and take rail off the fat cats
Scrap HS2 and take rail off the fat cats
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Protesters say they gave the BBC access to their tunnel on the promise that the broadcaster wouldn’t release the footage until the eviction had begun. 

But, said Larch, it reneged on its promise and just hours later the cops moved in. 

One protester said from the trees, “We’re in the midst of an illegal eviction. People are being dragged out violently.

“These guys have nothing better to do than turn up at five in the morning and evict a bunch of principled people trying to defend nature,” he said. 

“It looked really violent from what we could see at the fortress, they’ve smashed their way in.”

Euston is due to be a key station on the new high-speed railway, which began construction in earnest in September last year. 

Construction for the new railway is set to fell 108 ancient woodlands and destroy large swathes of areas of special scientific interest. 

It threatens animal and plant species, as well as being hugely destructive for the rural communities that live around the Chilterns and Midlands route. 

The Oakervee Review, a report commissioned by the government, said in 2019 that HS2 could cost as much as £106 billion. But the final bill could be even higher. 

It’s a huge price to pay for a project that promises to shave just a short time off the journey time between Birmingham and London. 

HS2 activists are right to draw attention to this damaging project—and the system of climate-wrecking policies that it represents.

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