Teenage anti-HS2 protester handed to police after leaving tunnel network

Tess de la Mare, PA
·2-min read

A 16-year-old anti-HS2 campaigner has left a network of tunnels near Euston Station after 22 days living underground.

The boy was the youngest person taking part in the protest against the high speed railway line and the redevelopment of Euston Square Gardens, a spokesman for campaign group HS2 Rebellion said.

A spokesman for HS2 said on Wednesday morning the teenager had been removed on a stretcher and was assessed by paramedics.

“He will be handed over to the Metropolitan Police,” the spokeswoman said.

The 16-year-old becomes the fourth person to leave the tunnels.

HS2 project
Police and enforcement officers at Euston Square Gardens (Yui Mok/PA)

The boy said in a statement: “After almost three weeks underground I am coming up. This means there will be more food for the others so they can resist for longer.”

He added: “I am looking forward to seeing mum. I have loved digging and being underground and I will continue to protest, HS2 needs to be stopped.

“Young people like me have to take action to stop the ecocide being committed by projects like HS2 because we’re in an ecological emergency and our future is at stake.

“Digging a tunnel may seem extreme but maybe it is the only way.”

A spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police said: “A 16-year-old male is in the custody of police having been arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass on Wednesday February 17.”

The 100ft network of tunnels, which was dug in secret by protesters who object to the redevelopment of Euston Square Gardens in London as part of HS2, were discovered on January 26.

The protesters last week lost a High Court bid to block an operation to remove them.

HS2’s spokesman said: “The safety of those trespassing and that of the HS2 staff and emergency service personnel in this operation is of paramount importance.

Scott Breen
Anti-HS2 protester Scott Breen (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

“We continue to do all we can to end this illegal action safely, and we reiterate our message to those underground to comply with the court order and exit the tunnel immediately – for their own safety and that of the HS2 staff, agents and emergency service personnel involved in this operation.”

On Sunday night, 46-year-old HS2 Rebellion protester Scott “Scotty” Breen, also known as Digger Down, left the tunnels and was escorted away by police.

In a Facebook post, Scotty said he was opting to leave the tunnels voluntarily after 19 days in order to “ease the pressure on resources (and) allow others to stay longer”.

He said: “I have nothing to prove by being the last one in so have decided to volunteer my exit.”

The activist said he expected more “strategic exits” by protesters as time goes on.

The 46-year-old, from West Drayton, west London, will appear at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court next week, accused of failing to comply with a community order.