Sleepless HS2 protesters claim they are victims of 'torture'

Sleepless HS2 protesters claim they are victims of ‘torture’ after bailiffs ‘kept them awake in their tunnel all night with loud machinery’

  • Protester believed to be Lazer Sandford spoke from inside the tunnel
  • He said one comrade Scott Breen, 47, had been ‘buried alive’ in Bailiff ‘torture’
  • They are protesting the high-speed rail line HS2 over its environmental cost 

An activist protesting in secret tunnels below Euston Station against the HS2 high-speed rail-line accused bailiffs of torture as they worked to try and remove them.

The man understood to be Lazer Sandford – real name Lachlan Blaze – is the brother of fellow tunneller Blue Sandford, 18.

Others inside the burrows are Scott Breen, 47, Larch Maxie, 48, and Swampy himself Daniel Hooper, also 48. 

In a video shared from inside the burrows by HS2 Rebellion Lazer appeared to have difficulty breathing at the end of the footage. 

He said: ‘We have been down this tunnel for maybe 24, 25 hours. Since then they have kept us constantly awake via loud noises once they have been dropping dirt on us continuously so we haven’t had a chance to sleep.

‘They have been shining lights down in our faces, bright lights, saying I’m not trying to blind you, making jokes about it, earlier they were sawing a root which was approximately four to five inches in circumference, maybe six, maybe four foot long.

‘They dropped it on my shoulder from nine feet above. They’ve been sitting on my head, they’ve stood on my arm.

Lazer said that the protesters had been down the tunnel for 25 hours under Euston 

He said bailiffs had dropped dirt and debris on them and even stood on some protesters

Larch Maxie, 48, is also down in the claustrophobic structure below the streets of London

‘Rocks have fallen on my head without any protection, they haven’t given us any protective gear.’

The protester spoke of how fellow campaigner Scotty Breen, 47, had been forced to turn himself over.

Lazer added: ‘They give us guarantees that we’ll be allowed to sleep if we help them with something then go back on those guarantees ten minutes later.

‘They’ve blocked off some of our stuff into the walls. Scotty was locked on with his arm, underground locked on, and they wanted him out so they continued pouring debris on him until he couldn’t bear it and had to unlock and withdraw. Literally burying him alive.

‘Sleep deprivation is a form of torture commonly used and they’ve been doing it to us. They’ve not given us an opportunity to sleep in the past 24 hours and I nearly just fell asleep on this guy’s leg. This same guy has been sitting on my head and standing on me and he said to me “I am alright with you intentionally touching me for reasons that have to happen but this whole Covid pandemic “.’

He then stops short and pants for breath before the video stops.     

Enforcement agents use a cherry picker to bring an Extinction Rebellion activist down

Bailiffs clear debris and set up a temporary tent after clearing protestors from the site

A protester is led away from the makeshift protest camp in Euston Square Gardens in London 

Why is HS2 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.

HS2 Rebellion is protesting HS2 plans to destroy the gardens by building a temporary taxi rank for Euston Station. 

They have accused HS2 of ‘breaking the law by attempting an eviction without a court order and during the national coronavirus lockdown’.

But an HS2 spokeswoman blasted the ‘illegal’ occupation and said it presented a ‘danger’ to HS2 staff and High Court enforcement officers.

The Metropolitan Police said officers were deployed only to help bailiffs should there be any ‘breach of the peace’. 

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’.

Independent experts have estimated that the HS2 rail line will cost in excess of £100billion. However, HS2 disputes this, and claims it will cost up to £98billion.

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 the 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.

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.

HS2 bosses also insist that most ancient woodland will ‘remain intact’.

Responding to the Euston Gardens encampment, a spokesperson said: ‘To ensure HS2 is able to deliver its major benefits to the UK on time, certain works must take place at designated times.

‘HS2 has taken legal temporary possession of Euston Square Gardens East in order to progress with works necessary for the construction of the new Euston station.

‘These protests are a danger to the safety of the protestors, our staff and the general public, and put unnecessary strain on the emergency services during a pandemic.

‘The protestors are currently trespassing on land that is legally possessed by HS2.’

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