Struggle Between Euston Tunnel Protesters and HS2 Spills into Courts

The struggle between protesters and bailiffs in Euston Square is spilling out from a muddy 100-foot tunnel under London’s streets to the courts.

When bailiffs moved in on the long-standing tree-top blockade of construction for the HS2 high-speed rail hub last Wednesday, protesters fled to a tunnel that they had constructed over several months, claiming that they had enough food and water to last for several weeks.

Specialist security staff working for HS2 have since been trying to remove the protesters from the tunnel and to ensure their safety.

On Monday night a judge issued an order for one of the activists to leave the tunnel, cease tunnelling, and inform authorities of the number of people in the tunnel, including any children.

The last point relates to unconfirmed allegations that there was a child in the tunnels.

The activist will be in contempt of court if he does not comply.

According to the Telegraph, the judge’s order notes the situation in the tunnel “is very dangerous”.

Bailiffs dismantle a structure at a “Stop HS2” camp at Euston Station in London on Jan. 30, 2021. (Hollie Adams/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, a barrister on Monday filed an appeal on behalf of the protesters for an urgent injunction and judicial review to halt the eviction. 

The protest group, called HS2 Rebellion, have been living in 80-foot-high treehouses, tents, and pallet shelters since the summer, to protect what they describe as “some of the most historic trees in Central London,” which they say are at risk from the construction of a temporary taxi rank.

That taxi rank will serve Euston Station while the current rank is demolished to allow construction of the high-speed rail hub that will ferry passengers to Birmingham New Street.

The HS2 project, which will initially link Birmingham and London via high-speed rail, has attracted various criticisms from a variety of different groups.

HS2 Rebellion appears to share a loose ideological position with the similarly named Extinction Rebellion.

The tunnel dug by HS2 Rebellion dug under Euston Square. (HS2 Rebellion)

HS2 Limited has taken temporary possession of the land and has hired private security to handle the eviction.

The company warned again on Monday night that the tunnels were at risk of flooding or collapse with rain forecast for the next 48 hours.

“The safety of people trespassing and the safety of HS2 staff and agents in this operation is of paramount importance,” the company said in a statement to The Epoch Times. “We are doing all we can to end this illegal action quickly and safely, including providing those underground with air—despite claims to the contrary. …

“Our message is, however, that those in the tunnels should come out now for their own safety.”

Some of the protesters had earlier accused the security team of removing the drainage system they had built into the tunnel system.

HS2 Limited refuted some specific claims made by Hs2 Rebellion.

The number of ancient woodlands that will be affected by the project will be 43, according to HS2 Limited, as opposed to the figure of over 108 cited by the protesters.

HS2 Limited said 80 percent of the total area of the affected ancient woodlands will be untouched by the construction. There are 52,000 ancient woodland sites in England, according to the company.

The protest site had also become something of a hub for some homeless people.

The group has argued that the site comes under pandemic-related legislation that bans evictions.

HS2 Limited, however, said, “The current ban on evictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic is not applicable and the police, landowners, and those with legal possession of the land have the power to remove trespassers using minimum force.”