Protesters Have Moved Into Secret Network Of Tunnels Built In Central London
More than a dozen environmental activists protesting the planned HS2 railway project have occupied a secretly-dug tunnel in front of London’s Euston station.
The protestors claim that they have ‘between 13 and 17’ people in the 30-metre long tunnel, which was dug underneath Euston Square Gardens, a small park in between the station and Euston Road in central London.
Members of an alliance known as HS2 Rebellion say they have occupied the Gardens to prevent it being turned into a temporary taxi rank and sold off to developers as part of the controversial high-speed rail project. The protesters told Sky News that the people down in the tunnel had enough food and water with them to stay underground ‘for several weeks’.
Some are understood to have chained themselves to fixed points in the tunnel, while other protesters in the camp have set up tents in trees inside the Gardens. A spokesperson for HS2 Rebellion said that while they expect the police to evict those above ground from the camp today, January 27, the plan is for the tunnellers to stay there while HS2 Rebellion lawyers challenge the eviction in court.
The group said that they believe they ‘can hold out in the tunnel for several weeks and hope in this time 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’. As of this afternoon, several protestors remained in the tunnels while police and bailiffs removed protesters from the above-ground camp. In a tweet, Camden Police confirmed that five people are in custody.
The tunnel network, codenamed ‘Calvin’, was dug over the course of several months by protesters working in shifts using pickaxes, shovels and buckets. The group also claims that local residents helped with construction of a ‘stronghold’ – referred to as ‘Buckingham Pallets’ – concealing the tunnel by using soil and wooden pallets to ‘fortify the barricades’ at the entrance.
The protesters are campaigning for the cancellation of the ongoing HS2 high-speed rail project, which is set to establish a new line reducing journey times between London and the north of the UK. The project has faced strong opposition on both environmental and economic grounds, with construction delayed on the line due to a series of legal challenges and reviews before being green-lit last year.
HS2 Rebellion claims that 108 ancient woodlands would be destroyed by the project – a figure disputed by HS2. One protestor, 18-year old Blue Sanford, told The Guardian that he had gone into the tunnel ‘because they are irresponsibly putting my life at risk from the climate and ecological emergency’, adding that the government and developers were ‘behaving in a way that is so reckless and unsafe that I don’t feel 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’.
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]