Work to remove HS2 protesters continues as one attaches himself to tunnel

Jess Glass, PA

Bailiffs are continuing to try to remove anti-HS2 protesters from tunnels by Euston station, after a demonstrator attached himself to the structure.

A group of at least six activists have spent more than a week in a network of tunnels beneath Euston Square Gardens.

Dr Larch Maxey, one of the demonstrators, said on Thursday that bailiffs had dug a parallel “down shaft” and connected it to the protesters’ one.

Eviction efforts continued on Friday as bailiffs tried to remove another environmental campaigner from a “lock-on” at the bottom of a down shaft.

The demonstrator, known as “Lazer”, attached himself to a tunnel using a device made of steel and concrete around his arm.

HS2 Rebellion group, an alliance of groups and individuals campaigning against the scheme, said on Friday that Lazer remained in place, estimating it would take several hours before the device could be opened.

They added that another lock-on device was attached to his ankle.

In a statement from HS2 Rebellion, Lazer said: “I’m only doing this because I don’t have a choice.

“I shouldn’t have to, but we are now in a total emergency. The lives of people in my generation are being risked by carbon-guzzling vanity projects like HS2.

“HS2 uses huge amounts of high carbon steel and concrete and it will only make the climate emergency worse.”

Confined space rescue specialist Peter Faulding estimated the eviction could end up costing “around the region of three or four million pounds”.

Mr Faulding, founder of Specialist Group International and an expert witness for the protesters’ legal team, told Sky News on Friday that HS2 risked “massive reputational damage” over how the eviction was handled.

“That’s what I’m worried about this project, HS2 are getting a really bad name here. They don’t need to. They could have dialogue, it could have been planned a lot better,” he said.

Mr Faulding claimed the tunnels were only discovered by HS2 last Monday, with eviction operations normally taking at least three or four weeks to plan in depth.

“They’ve gone in unprepared and people’s lives are being put at risk,” he added.

He said bailiffs, who he claimed had spent 20 hours trying to release Lazer from the lock on, were “in for some shocks”.

Mr Faulding said the eviction operation needed “proper air monitoring” in the tunnels and “hard wire communications in case the tunnel collapses”.

“There’s a very high chance that someone is going to get seriously injured here,” he said.

HS2 protest
Enforcement officers at the HS2 Rebellion encampment (Aaron Chown/PA)

On Friday, staff could be seen removing buckets of mud from the tunnel while several police officers remained around the perimeter of the site.

HS2 Rebellion has called on the Government to scrap the “expensive, unpopular and destructive” scheme.

The environmental campaigners are attempting 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.

Activists in the tunnels include veteran environmental campaigner Swampy, real name Daniel Hooper, and his son Rory.

Earlier this week a High Court judge rejected a legal bid to halt efforts to evict them.

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

A man named Lazer in the underground tunnels
A man named Lazer in the underground tunnels at the HS2 Rebellion encampment in Euston Square Gardens (HS2 Rebellion/PA)

An HS2 Ltd spokesman said: “The safety of those trespassing and that of the HS2 staff and emergency service personnel in this operation is of paramount importance.

“We are doing all we can to end this illegal action safely, and progress has been made with access secured to the underground tunnel.

“As has been reported this morning, the illegal trespassers have attached themselves underground, which increases the danger to themselves, but also to our team and the emergency services.

“The High Court this week issued an order to require the illegal occupiers to leave their tunnel. Dr Maxey still hasn’t complied with the court order, which also told him to provide information on the tunnels and its occupants.

“We urge Dr Maxey to comply with the order as soon as possible – for his safety and the safety of the other activists and the HS2 staff and agents tasked with removing them from the danger they have put themselves in.”

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