Tree Protectors tunnel under Central London to Stop HS2

Tree protectors have dug and are ready to occupy tunnels underneath Euston Square Gardens East in Central London. For a decade, HS2 Ltd claimed they would not require Euston Square Gardens for the development of Euston station, however after taking Euston Sq Gardens West for a ‘temporary taxi rank’, they now want to take Euston Square Gardens East for, err… a ‘temporary taxi rank’

Article from HS2 Rebellion

Protectors are defending the park and its trees against HS2, which intends to destroy this green haven in order to build a temporary taxi rank, before selling the land off to developers. They are prepared to stay underground for as long as it takes to stop HS2.

They also hope to draw attention to similar behaviour by HS2 all along the line between London and Birmingham. 108 ancient woodlands are being destroyed and countless people being forced from their homes and businesses by HS2, as part of the biggest land grab in modern British history.

The 100 foot tunnel network, code-named Calvin, has been dug in secret over the last few months. Its entrance is concealed by an enormous fortified stronghold built from pallets, complete with towers, affectionately nick-named Buckingham Pallets.

Tunnellers have worked around the clock, using pickaxes, shovels, buckets, and shifts of 2-12 people at a time. Many local people from around Euston, disrupted by HS2, have also pitched in to help. The spoil has been used to fortify the barricades around the tunnel complex’s entrance and to insulate the pallet fortress so that the diggers have a warm place to sleep between shifts.

For safety the tunnels have been shored up with wooden joists and thick boards to prevent collapse. There is a main chamber where the activists are living and stashes of food and water all along the tunnels’ lengths. These have been stocked with tins of beans and packets of pasta and vegetables.

The tree protectors expect an illegal eviction attempt to begin as soon as tomorrow morning. 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. Lawyers acting on behalf of the Euston Square Gardens Protection Camp have already written to HS2 advising them of the illegality of any such eviction attempt at this time.

They are also calling upon the Government to scrap the expensive, unpopular and destructive scheme now, before it is too late. The estimated cost of HS2 has already skyrocketed from an original £9 billion to a staggering £230 billion and is continuing to rise.[1] That is approximately £7,000 per UK taxpayer. This is money which the chronically underfunded NHS could make far better use of, especially during a pandemic.

It is also laying waste to vast swathes of wildlife habitats and by HS2’s own forecasts will still be a net carbon contributor 120 years from now. With Parliament having declared A Climate and Ecological Emergency and swelling numbers of British species seriously endangered and at risk of imminent extinction, this is the very last project this country needs.

Many groups and organisations are now calling for a National Citizens Assembly to lead the way out of the Climate and Ecological Emergency, to reassess the whole HS2 project and whether it is really the best way to spend £230 billion of taxpayers money.[2]

Blue Sandford, 18, from London, a published author, currently on school strike for climate, comments: ‘HS2 is a waste of money and time, and by the government’s own admission will be heavily polluting and carbon intensive while demand for mass transit is falling and home working is the new norm for many people. 

“It’s just a symptom of the wider irresponsibility of this government, which is ignoring the scientific advice on how much more fuel we can burn in our planes and cars and infrastructure developments like HS2 without crashing the climate, causing social collapse and endangering young people like me.  

“I’m angry that the government is still effectively ignoring this crisis despite declaring a Climate and Ecological Emergency two years ago. I’m in this tunnel because they are irresponsibly putting my life at risk from the Climate and Ecological Emergency.  They are 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. 

“I shouldn’t have to do this—I should be in school—the trouble is they are stealing that future and I have to stop them.”

Follow-uo, 27th January: HS2 recklessly flouts lockdown with illegal Euston eviction

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