Anti-HS2 protesters have come face-to-face with bailiffs in tunnels dug near Euston station in London, as efforts to evict them continue.
Dr Larch Maxey, who is among the group of activists who have spent more than a week beneath Euston Square Gardens, said bailiffs had begun “drilling” to remove another environmental campaigner from a “lock on” at the bottom of a down shaft.
During an interview between a protester and the PA news agency on Thursday night, a bailiff could be heard informing another demonstrator called “Lazer” that they would attempt to get him out of the device by digging around it.
Maxey described the lock on as a metal “arm tube” that was buried in concrete in the ground.
During his statement, the bailiff said Lazer had been given safety goggles, masks, ear protection and offered him a fire blanket for dust.
“I’m going to give you about five minutes or so, just to digest what’s happening, if anybody tries to interfere with our works, we will push your arms away or whatever,” the bailiff said.
“So I’m asking you to just let us carry on with our work and do it under safe conditions for everybody.”
He also asked Lazer to inform him if he wanted to release himself voluntarily.
“I’m asking you not to interfere with what we’re doing under health and safety regulations,” the bailiff said, adding: “If you start fighting with us, there’s a possibility that someone could get harmed, so we need you to stay calm, and we need you to just let us do our job in the safe conditions.”
Maxey said bailiffs had dug a parallel “down shaft” over the past few days and connected this to the protester’s one.
Speaking a short time later, he said it was “the first time they’ve been working here at the bottom of the down shaft in close quarters with us”.
Maxey said bailiffs had paused in their efforts to remove Lazer from the lock on to put in place safety measures to remove water pooling around it.
“It’s being done safely so far, so we’re going to try and keep it that way,” he said.
Maxey said he was “concerned” for Lazer getting tired through the night, but would “keep an eye” on him.
Environmental campaigners have dug a network of tunnels beneath Euston Square Gardens in a bid to protect the green space which they claim will be built over with a temporary taxi rank before being sold to developers as part of plans for the high-speed railway.
HS2 Rebellion, an alliance of groups and individuals campaigning against HS2, has called on the government to scrap the “expensive, unpopular and destructive” scheme “before it is too late” and argued for a National Citizens Assembly to “lead the way out of the climate and ecological emergency”.
The protest group previously said there were nine activists in the tunnels, who include veteran environmental campaigner Swampy, real name Daniel Hooper, and his son Rory.
Support the protesters
Earlier this week, a High Court judge rejected a legal bid to halt efforts to evict them.
Justice Robin Knowles refused an application brought by Maxey for an injunction requiring HS2 and others to cease operations.
HS2 Ltd has said it has “legal possession” of the land and repeatedly urged protesters to leave “for their own safety” before they are removed by High Court enforcement officers.
A spokesman said: “After 72 hours Dr Maxey still hasn’t complied with the court judgment ordering him to provide information on the tunnels and occupants and, crucially, to exit the tunnel.
“HS2 continues to do all we can to end this illegal action quickly and safely.”
Meanwhile, environmental groups such as Extinction Rebellion are calling for people to support those in the tunnels:
Support the tunnelers @Hs2Rebellion who are making q complete embarrassment of @HS2ltd – @GOVUK stop the Euston tree cutting, stop HS2, and acknowledge the biodiversity crisis now #ExtinctionIsForever #StopHS2 #ActNow https://t.co/v0wP9KzIlP
— Extinction Rebellion UK 🌍 (@XRebellionUK) February 5, 2021
We need your help ...
The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.
Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.
We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.
Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?