Inside 100ft tunnels dug under park as zip wire protester tries to evade capture
This is the inside of the 100ft tunnel complex secretly dug by HS2 protesters underneath Euston Square Gardens.
Four demonstrators are currently holed up in the labyrinth beneath the central London park, which they fear is at risk from the high-speed rail project.
Above ground, protesters have set up tents in the trees, with one man being arrested after evading bailiffs on a zip-wire.
Full-time activist Dr Larch Maxey said that more than 30 people, including himself, helped dig and shore up the tunnel.
Construction of the secret network started in September, although it recently suffered a setback when the tunnel collapsed in heavy rain.
Dr Maxey said: “We used spades, shovels and pickaxes to dig it.
“It’s very loose material, it’s a sandy pebbly mix and it’s prone to collapse. We have shored it up as we’ve gone along.
“The recent collapse was caused by the heavy rain. Material came in from the sides of the tunnel. We had to remove 100 buckets of earth.”
Despite the setback, the tunnellers repaired the labyrinth and are now secure in their underground fortress.
Dr Maxey said activists in the tunnel are stocked up with food and water and will stay there for as long as they can.
After climbing out of the tunnel, he said: “We have got some food and water down there. Going to the toilet is a bit trickier.
“We have to go to the toilet in an inconvenient way. But we are not living down there for convenience.
“It’s about stopping societal collapse. Science says we are heading towards the potential extinction of all life on the planet.”
He described HS2 as an ‘acceleration’ of this process, claiming it would cause huge CO2 emissions and destroy woodlands and other nature zones.
The activist said the four people currently inside the tunnel are staying there for 24 hours a day.
He added that he and the other volunteers collected materials for project from nearby scrapyards.
They chose to dig a tunnel because they are ‘easier to defend’ than trees, which protesters have locked themselves to during past evictions.
The tunnel’s downshaft, where the digging began, is in between trees in the square.
The activists chose a spot which was unlikely to have services underneath, in a bid to avoid hitting any pipes, Dr Maxey said.
The tunnels are apparently supported by wooden joists and thick boards to prevent collapse.
Dr Maxey, who is currently guarding a ‘trap door’ at the downshaft, said he would agree to come out of the tunnel if the authorities pledge to hold a ‘people’s assembly’ on the future of HS2.
He warned bailiffs against trying to storm the tunnel, saying it was easy to defend because of its confined nature.
Protest group HS2 Rebellion believes Euston Square Gardens will be built over with a temporary taxi rank before being sold to developers.
About a dozen enforcement agents from HS2’s private contractor, the National Eviction Team, are monitoring the area from the ground.
HS2 Rebellion said an eviction of the camp began shortly before 5am today.
A protester used a zip wire to dramatically evade capture as the eviction commenced.
He moved from tree to tree to avoid bailiffs trying to apprehend him.
They had used cherrypickers to start to dismantle a tree house outside Euston station.
But they couldn’t reach the man dangling 80 foot above the ground.
Martin Andryjankczyk, 20, from Erdington, Birmingham, said: “My body was numb because of the adrenaline. I tried wiggling myself out but it didn’t work. I almost kicked one in the face.
“I have been living here for the last four months. I don’t want the park going.
“They arrested me, took me to Holloway police station and de-arrested me.”
HS2 Rebellion said bailiffs “entered the camp under cover of darkness” and that tree protectors had entered the tunnels and were “prepared for a lengthy siege”.
The group previously said they believed 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”.
A HS2 Ltd spokesman said:
“Any construction of underground tunnels to obstruct HS2 taking legal possession of the land from unlawful trespassers will put HS2 staff in danger and will incur a higher cost to the taxpayer.
“The safety of the public and HS2 staff is at the heart of everything we do, and specialist teams will be dealing with the lawful removal of trespassers occupying this land.
“HS2 provides a cleaner, greener way to travel, helping to cut the number of cars and lorries on our roads, reduce demand for domestic flights, and help the country to cut its carbon emissions in the fight against climate change.
“HS2 has been approved by democratically elected MPs on multiple occasions and the project is playing a pivotal role in helping Britain’s economic recovery.
“There are 13,000 people already working on the project and we recently announced a further 22,000 jobs across the country at a time when it needs them most.”