ECO-activists trying to stop the HS2 project have dug into their cramped 100ft tunnel network for the last 28 hours – and warned they won't be coming out anytime soon.
One protester this morning claimed they got "no sleep" after workers worked through the night on the High Speed rail scheme.
The activists dug a network of 100ft tunnels below Euston Square Gardens in protest against HS2.
Activist Larch Maxey, 48, has been living in the park since August last year.
In a video this morning, he begged workers to "work quietly," because it was "unjustified" to deprive them of sleep.
Protesters have reportedly claimed they were "deliberately sleep deprived", with loud power tools in constant use in close proximity to them without any break.
Those in one of the treehouses reportedly claimed their shelter, provisions and safety line were removed, leaving them little protection from the cold overnight.
It comes after dramatic scenes unfolded yesterday morning as activists were dragged from their central London camp by bailiffs, with one heard yelling as he was led away.
Yesterday evening the protesters were preparing to bed in for the night.
And Dr Maxey said those in the tunnels, who have been there since 4.30am on Wednesday, had no immediate plans to leave.
"We will last as long as we can down here, but we can't put a date on that. Our resolve is clear because we are telling the truth about the climate," he said.
He added that the group would "absolutely be spending the night underground", adding: "We will not be coming out any time soon."
Protesters scurried into their tunnel and up trees to avoid being evicted – but five people, four men and one woman, were arrested by Met Police as cops monitored potential breaches of the peace and Covid legislation.
Cherry pickers were also called in to remove protesters from trees while officers were seen putting on harnesses as they moved to clear demonstrators from makeshift treehouses.
One masked man was even seen ziplining between the trees in an apparent attempt to avoid eviction.
Bailiffs also started to cut ropes stringing the makeshift camp together as activists desperately try to avoid being sent packing.
Many are still at the site with at least four – possibly including veteran protester Swampy – believed to be underground.
Swampy, real name Daniel Hooper, is believed to have holed himself up in the tunnels yesterday.
Last November he appeared in court under his real name to deny a charge of aggravated trespass in connection with a treetop protest against the HS2 rail link.
'NOT GOING TO GIVE UP'
Swampy first hit the headlines in 1996 when he spent seven days and seven nights living in a tunnel dug by campaigners to stop the £50million A30 dual carriageway link road in Devon, and has since joined numerous protests.
Activists claim their tunnel – nicknamed Calvin, near busy Euston Road – took two months to dig and is their "best defence" to thwart eviction from their camp.
It has since been claimed there is a second tunnel named Crystal that connects to the network.
Eco-warriors say the group have "stocks of food" plus bedding and even toilet facilities in the underground tunnel that they have been working on in secret.
Protester Martin Andryjankczyk, 20, told The Sun he had been at the site for four months – saying: "This is a HS2 rebellion protest camp, we are trying to protect those trees from HS2 and stop them from being cut down.
“They aren’t going to give up that easily. This camp will take at least a week or two to evict.”
Protesters previously admitted the tunnel suffered a "big collapse" after heavy rain while under construction, raising fears the shaft could fall in on itself while activists are inside it.
Lawyers for the eco-protesters last week insisted the site was being "legally squatted" and that evictions were illegal under Covid regulations until February 21.
But a HS2 spokesperson said the current ban on evictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic is not applicable, adding: "The protests are a danger to the safety of the protesters, our staff and the general public."
The activists have claimed that the section of Euston Square Gardens they are occupying will be turned into a taxi rank before being sold off to developers.
And they have vowed not to move, with one 18-year-old activist called Blue admitting to the BBC: "It is all very dangerous and life-threatening, but it is all worth it.
"This is the only way I can effect change, I would sacrifice everything for the climate ecological emergency to not be happening.
"We want to be as safe as possible. It is not about us martyring ourselves, it is about delaying and stopping HS2."
A HS2 Rebellion spokesman said members "worked around the clock", using pickaxes, shovels, buckets, on shifts of 2-12 people at a time to dig the tunnel.
Al, 18 of Hendon, told The Sun that the tunnel dropped down 10 feet before extending 100 ft in length.
He said: "We’re using direct action and making sacrifices because this is the most effective means of change. We shouldn’t be spending billions and billions of pounds on a project which is only there to serve the interests of the wealthy.”
The group claims HS2 is the "most expensive, wasteful and destructive project in UK history".
They say the project will "destroy or irreparably damage 108 ancient woodlands and 693 wildlife sites".
And they claim HS2's plan to build an aquifier in Colne Valley, West London, risks contaminating almost a quarter of the capital's water supply.
But HS2 bosses insist seven million trees will be planted during phase one of the project and most ancient woodland will "remain intact".
A spokesman for HS2 said the tunnel protests were “costly to the taxpayer”.
An 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.”
The Met Police said it was the responsibility of the landowners to evict trespassers but they could be on hand to keep the peace.
HS2 is set to link London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds with the hope the 20-year project will result reduce rail passenger overcrowding and boost the UK’s economy.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told MPs in September that the first phase of the high-speed rail link between London and Birmingham would not open until 2028 at the earliest.
The second phase, to Manchester and Leeds, was due to open in 2032-33 but that has been pushed back to 2035-40.
Source: Read Full Article