HS2: Teenage protester says she learned more in Euston tunnels than at school

A teenager who camped inside tunnels underneath London’s Euston station protesting against HS2 has told Sky News she learned more there than she would have at school.

Rollie, 17, is one of around a dozen environmental campaigners that have occupied a 30m (100ft) network of tunnels they secretly dug at the front of Euston station in protest against the high-speed rail link.

She spoke of her experiences a week after she emerged from the camp below Euston Square Gardens, as a third protester decided to leave on Monday.

Asked about why she was defying coronavirus restrictions and missing out on homeschooling to take part in the demonstration, Rollie said: “Education matters for nothing on a dead planet.

“I’ve learned a lot being on the campaign, a lot more than I believe I would in a classroom, and I believe it’s the right thing to do.”

She described the tunnels as “noisy, dark and dirty”, but said there was “a lot of camaraderie”.

“It’s very small and quite dark,” she said. “And it was dirty, but it was as nice as it could be. And we all get on really well and played cards and did sketching.”

With bailiffs trying to evict the six people still thought to be underground, she added: “It’s quite noisy down there because the bailiffs are working around the clock and they didn’t often give us a break.

“It was quite tough at times, but I’m really, really glad I did it and we all did have fun, the spirits are high, and people are in it for the long haul.”

The latest climate change activist to leave the Euston protest site on Monday was 46-year-old Scotty, also known as Digger Down.

In a phone video made just before he came out Scotty said: “I’m leaving the tunnel to help protect resources.

“Guys I’ve been here for 20 days in this tunnel and I’m ready to leave – so I’ll see you on the other side.

“I’ll go upstairs and see the medic and have a quick cup of tea and I’ll probably be arrested.

“This has been epic. I’m sorry to come out but it makes sense to make tactical withdrawals based on resources and allow this protest to continue.

“I have nothing to prove by being the last one in so have decided to volunteer my exit.”

It is thought Scotty left to enable others to be able to stay longer with the supplies available to them.

Protester Larch Maxy, who is still in the tunnel, said: “We’re doing really well. The spirits are getting stronger every day.

“The group is so strong. It’s amazing to be uniting in this way.”

Rollie, who travelled from her home in Hartlepool, said of why she took part: “The risk and discomfort of being in a tunnel is absolutely nothing in comparison to the risk and discomfort that the climate and ecological crisis will cause for us all.

“As long as there’s injustice in this world I’ll be there standing against it. I don’t believe in living a life of complicity.”

The tunnel boring machines (TBMs) are due to start wotk next spring

The activists are protesting against the redevelopment of Euston Square Gardens as part of the HS2 high-speed train project between London and Birmingham.

Last week the campaigners lost a High Court bid to block an operation to remove them.

They say they want to raise awareness about the environmental destruction which will be caused by the building of HS2.

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