More than a dozen environmental activists have occupied a 30m (100ft) tunnel they secretly dug at the front of London’s Euston station in protest against the HS2 rail project.
The protesters have been camping for weeks in Euston Square Gardens, which they claim will be turned into a taxi terminal once the initial phase of the £106bn high-speed rail project is completed.
“We have between 13 to 17 protesters in the tunnel and they have enough food and water down there to last for several weeks,” one of the HS2 Rebellion group told Sky News.
Security staff from a private firm circled the makeshift camp in central London early this morning as Metropolitan Police officers wearing harnesses arrived to remove protesters, some of whom had camped overnight in trees.
A group of around 20 supporters standing nearby was dispersed by police officers, citing COVID regulations.
The group said lawyers for the “Euston Square Gardens Protection Camp” had written to HS2 “advising them of the illegality of any such eviction attempt at this time”.
HS2 Rebellion claims that the planned HS2 line, due to link up London, the Midlands, the north of England and Scotland, will see 108 ancient woodlands “destroyed” and “countless people being forced from their homes and businesses”.
A 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 protesters, our staff and the general public, and put unnecessary strain on the emergency services during a pandemic. The protesters are currently trespassing on land that is legally possessed by HS2.
“All leading environmental organisations agree that climate change is the biggest future threat to wildlife and habitats in the UK. By providing a cleaner, greener way to travel, HS2 will help cut the number of cars and lorries on our roads, cut demand for domestic flights, and help the country’s push to reduce carbon emissions.
“HS2 has been approved by democratically elected MPs on multiple occasions and the project is playing a pivotal role in helping Britain’s economic recovery.
“There are 13,000 people already working on the project and we recently announced a further 22,000 jobs across the country at a time when it needs them most.”
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