SECOND protest tunnel is found in London: Bailiffs find activists in secret crawl space beneath Islington tree encampment – after eco mob got help from Swampy’s crew at HS2 barricade in Euston
- The new burrow has been put up beneath Dixon Clark Court in Islington, north London, over tree fell plans
- Highbury Corner Tree Protection Camp have been up the trees for months before bailiffs arrived today
- They discovered a tunnel – just like the one at Euston – and said to have been masterminded by Swampy
Another secret protest tunnel underneath London has been found by stunned bailiffs trying to clear away campaigners railing against plans to fell trees for flats.
Islington Council enforcement officers were gobsmacked to discover the burrow beneath Dixon Clark Court on Highbury Corner, Islington.
It was said to have been masterminded by veteran activist Swampy and the crew who had occupied tunnels below Euston Square against HS2.
The new crawlspace is part of the Highbury Corner Tree Protection Camp, which is protesting against the council over 6-storey block of up private housing earmarked for the area.
They say a ‘little forest’ of seven mature trees will be lost, including Norwegian maple, sycamores and chestnuts.
The view from the top of the tree protests, feet above another secret tunnel hidden in the ground below the camp
An enforcement officer tries to begin the eviction of the site, months after the campaigners had first arrived at the scene
The tunnel at Islington was masterminded by the same brains behind Euston’s burrows, which included Swampy
For four months they have been living on the site in makeshift pallet shacks, tents and treehouses to try and stop the development going ahead.
They say the small patch of green space should be kept because it is an area of major traffic congestion and air pollution.
Maria, one of the tree protectors in the tunnel at the Highbury Corner Tree Protection Camp, said: ‘Our governments, local and national, are out of touch and not representing the people.
‘They declare Climate and Environment Emergency and then carry on destroying trees and countryside. It’s got to stop.
‘Peoples Assemblies offer fairer representation. We have no alternative but to take direct action until we see real democracy.’
The tunnel entrance was hidden beneath a pallet shack, which allowed them cover while it was being built.
The two tunnels are in London and have been created to protest work that would see green space or trees removed or felled
The climate campaigners have been battling to save seven mature trees that have been ordered to be removed for flats
Scores of officials and police arrived to throw a cordon around the camp as the attempted eviction continued this morning
The green protesters have been living at the site at Dixon Clark Court near High Corner for months and refused to move
It is strikingly similar to the tunnel plaguing bailiffs and enforcement officers at Euston Square Gardens.
A fortnight has passed since it was found, with Swampy and others, including the children of a millionaire laird of an island, waiting it out in there.
Scotland Yard said that 37 arrests have been made at the protest site so far for various offences including breaches of coronavirus regulations, trespassing and offences under the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act. Twenty-three fixed-penalty notices have also been issued, a police spokesperson added.
The first activist to leave the site was a 17-year-old female who was arrested on Friday and will appear at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court today over a breach of existing bail conditions.
At the weekend a second protester, Lazer Sandford, was arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass after also leaving the tunnel system. The 20-year-old had locked himself in place underground using a metal device encased in concrete as he refused bailiffs’ requests to leave the tunnel.
A spokesman for the HS2 Rebellion group said Mr Sandford left in exchange for supplies including hygiene and sanitary products and lights for the remaining demonstrators.
Lazer Sandford was the second to leave the tunnels after several days underground as part of the protests
Six HS2 Rebellion activists including veteran environmental campaigner Swampy, real name Daniel Hooper, and his son Rory are still occupying the tunnels dug in secret near Euston Station in Central London
Why is the £98bn HS2 rail project so controversial?
The Woodland Trust, a conservation charity, calls HS2 ‘a grave threat to the UK’s ancient woods, with 108 at risk of loss or damage’.
But HS2 says only 0.29 square kilometres (0.11 square miles) of ancient woodland will be lost during the first phase. HS2 says it will reduce journey times between London and northern England and add capacity to Britain’s crowded rail network.
Critics question whether HS2 is worth its ballooning price tag – now reported more than £100billion – especially after a pandemic that might permanently change people’s travel habits.
The first phase linking London and Birmingham is due to open between 2029 and 2033, according to HS2 Ltd.
In September Boris Johnson joined the front line to see work begin on HS2, as shovels hit the ground in Solihull.
He said the ‘incredible’ scheme, launched in 2009, would deliver not just ‘22,000 jobs now, but tens of thousands more high-skilled jobs in the decades ahead’.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told MPs last year the first trains may not be up and running until 2031. The project has been shrouded in controversy since its birth, with campaigners warning it is ‘decimating countryside and creating a huge financial burden’.
In April wildlife presenter Chris Packham lost a High Court bid to stop ancient woodlands being dug up for the project.
There was also uproar when HS2’s annual report revealed each person working on it was costing the taxpayer almost £100,000 on average.
It also revealed chief executive Mark Thurston was paid £659,416 last year – four times as much as the PM. More than £3.3million was spent on ‘travel and subsistence’ and £802,000 on recruitment fees.
A 23-year-old man was also arrested under the Health Protection Regulations.
HS2 Rebellion has called on the government to scrap the ‘expensive, unpopular and destructive’ rail project and claims plans will see Euston Square Gardens built over with a temporary taxi rank before being sold to developers.
The group has claimed that the protest in Euston is the ‘longest UK protest tunnel occupation in two decades’, breaking the 10-day record previously set by a pair of environmental campaigners in Derbyshire in 2008.
An HS2 Ltd spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘Two of the illegal trespassers have chosen to leave the tunnel to date, and we urge the others to follow as soon as possible.
‘We are doing all we can to end this illegal action safely, and we reiterate our message to those in the tunnels to comply with the court order and come out immediately – for their own safety and that of the HS2 staff, agents and emergency service personnel involved in this operation.’
A spokesperson for the Met Police said: ‘The Met has made 37 arrests at the protest site. Arrests have been made in relation to various offences, including breaches of Covid regulations, trespassing and offences under the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act. Twenty-three Fixed Penalty Notices have been issued.
‘Police remain on scene at Euston Square Gardens to prevent any potential breach of the peace and to uphold Covid legislation. Protest is not an exemption from these rules. Any allegations of criminality made to police, including allegations from those protesting at the site, will be assessed and acted on accordingly.’
The HS2 rail project, which is set to link London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, and rebalance the UK’s economy, has been called ‘expensive, wasteful and destructive’ by environmentalists.
Anti-HS2 protesters claim the line will destroy or irreparably damage 108 ancient woodlands and 693 wildlife sites, and that Euston Square Gardens will be built over with a temporary taxi rank before being sold off to developers.
They added that ‘tree protectors’ were prepared to occupy the tunnels, dug ‘in secret’ over the last few months, and would stay underground ‘for as long as it takes to stop HS2’.
MailOnline understands that HS2 has taken legal temporary possession of Euston Square Gardens East in order to relocate the temporary taxi rank for Euston Station.
The current location of the taxi rank – Euston Square Gardens West – is required for preparatory works, including significant utilities diversions, to enable the improvements to the connections between Euston Square and Euston Underground stations, as well as for the construction of Euston’s new station.
HS2 served notices on the legal owners and occupiers of the land – London Borough of Camden, Network Rail and Transport for London – last month, stating our intention to take the site under the powers of Temporary Possession.
It is understood that the notice period is over and HS2 is now entitled the take possession of the land, and any occupants on the land are now trespassing.
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