Protesters have claimed they have dug and are ready to occupy a 100-foot network of tunnels under a small central London park that they say is threatened by the development of the HS2 line.
HS2 Rebellion, an alliance of groups and individuals campaigning against the bullet train project, says Euston Square Gardens, a green space outside of Euston Station, will be built with a temporary taxis before being sold to developers.
The protest group said “tree guards” were prepared to occupy the tunnels, dug “in secret” in recent months, and stay underground “for as long as it takes to stop HS2”.
HS2 said it could not comment on the specifics of the protesters’ activities as it had not yet taken possession of the land, but said “illegal” actions could constitute a danger to the safety of people.
A community advisory issued in December clarified the need to construct a “temporary” taxi rank on the east side of Euston Square Gardens to support the construction of a proposed HS2 station. Construction is scheduled to begin in January and continue through December.
The tunnellers worked “around the clock” using pickaxes, shovels and buckets to create the network, said the HS2 Rebellion, named Kelvin.
With the help of local residents, the excavation material was used to “fortify the barricades” at the entrance to the network and insulate the “pallet fortress” to keep the tunnel boring machines warm when sleeping between shifts.
The tunnels are supported by wooden beams and thick planks to prevent collapse and inside there are food and water supplies, protesters said.
HS2 Rebellion said it expected protesters to be evicted from the site from Wednesday morning.
He added: “They think they can fit in the tunnel for several weeks and are hoping at that point that a court will rule against HS2 for breaking the law by attempting an eviction without a court order and during the national coronavirus lockdown. . “
HS2 Rebellion says the planned HS2 line, due to link London, the Midlands, the north of England and Scotland, will see 108 ancient forests “destroyed” and “countless people will be evicted from their homes and companies ”. He called on the government to abandon the “costly, unpopular and destructive” program.
HS2 Limited said only 43 old growth forests would be affected by the route of the railway between London and Crewe, with 80% of their total area remaining intact.
One protester, Blue Sanford, 18, from London, said: ‘I am in this tunnel because they are irresponsibly putting my life at risk due to the climate and ecological emergency.
“They behave in such a reckless and dangerous manner that I don’t think they give us any choice but to protest in this way to help save our own lives and the lives of all the people of the world.”
Construction began in September on the first phase of HS2 from London to Birmingham. Phase 2a is expected to take place from Birmingham to Crewe, and phase 2b from Crewe to Manchester and Birmingham to Leeds.
The government-commissioned Oakervee Review warned in 2019 that the final HS2 bill could reach £ 106bn at that year’s prices.
An HS2 spokesperson said: “An illegal action like this is costly to the taxpayer and poses a danger to the safety of activists, HS2 staff, high justice officials and the general public, as well as ‘unnecessary pressure on emergency services during the pandemic.
“Safety is our first priority when taking over land and clearing illegal settlements.”
She said the HS2 offered “a cleaner and greener way to travel, helping to reduce the number of cars and trucks on our roads, reduce the demand for domestic flights and help the country reduce its carbon emissions. in the fight against climate change ”.
She added that HS2 had been endorsed by MPs “on several occasions” would support Britain’s economic recovery and support thousands of jobs.