Arrests made as anti-HS2 campaigners continue protest

Police have arrested anti-HS2 railway protesters involved with occupying a central London park as other activists remained in a 100-foot network of tunnels dug underground.

At least three activists were handcuffed for apparently breaching coronavirus regulations at the scene in Euston Square Gardens on Thursday morning.

The HS2 Rebellion campaigners, including veteran environmental activist Swampy, claim the small green space near Euston Station will be built over with a temporary taxi rank before being sold to developers as part of plans for the high-speed railway.

Bailiffs from the national eviction team, a subsidiary of the High Court Enforcement (HCE) group, began evicting protesters on Wednesday and continued to take down the makeshift camp on Thursday.

The HCE group said on Wednesday evening its team was adopting a “safety-led” approach to removing activists and it would “take time, careful planning and the work of skilled personnel to resolve the situation in a safe and controlled manner”.

Police officers detain a man (Aaron Chown/PA)
Police officers detain a man (Aaron Chown/PA)

One of those evicted was also among three men arrested by police officers on Thursday morning after allegedly breaking Covid-19 restrictions.

Protesters, some without masks, could be seen embracing each other and ignoring social distancing rules.

The three men were taken away to a police van.

Bailiffs also continued efforts to remove more activists from the park, using a cherry-picker to take at least two people down from a wooden platform attached to a large tree.

Supporters on the ground were shouting at the bailiffs, while others chanted “HS2, shame on you”.

HS2 project
HS2 project

At least four protesters, including Swampy, real name Daniel Hooper, remain in the underground network of tunnels.

The campaign group released a video from one of the tunnel occupiers, who claimed to have had a sleepless night because of the noise above.

Protester Larch Maxey, 48, speaking from inside the tunnel, said: “So, we’re into day two of this tunnelling escapade.

“The hardest thing now is the noise.

“They’re constantly working 24 hours a day and making loads of noise with loud machinery.”

A HS2 protester catches a food parcel (Aaron Chown/PA)
A HS2 protester catches a food parcel (Aaron Chown/PA)

Mr Maxey, who has been living in the park since August last year, told the PA news agency there are no plans to leave “any time soon”.

He said digging work on the two tunnels began in September last year.