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Priest to chain herself to tree at Euston in protest against HS2 felling plans

Euston station in central London
Euston station in central London. Anne Stevens, the vicar of neighbouring St Pancras church, is planning to protest on Friday. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

A priest is to chain herself to a tree outside Euston station in central London in a protest against the felling of more than 200 trees around the station to make way for the HS2 rail line.

Dozens of giant London plane trees in Euston Square Gardens are among those earmarked to be cut down to provide temporary sites for construction vehicles and a taxi rank displaced by work at the station.

Work to rebuild and enlarge Euston to include new platforms for HS2 trains is expected to last more than a decade, with severe traffic disruption and pollution in the area compounding the requirement for several hundred homes to be demolished.

Residents said they had been pushed into taking direct action to try to save some green space, with the site to be fenced off from Monday. Anti-HS2 protesters will use a 10-metre chain to tie Anne Stevens, the vicar of neighbouring St Pancras church, to the trunk of one of the doomed trees on Friday.

Dorothea Hackman, a church warden, said: “We won’t have a single tree cleaning up the air or providing green space and shade in this part of central London.”

Residents fear the park will be permanently lost to development during the building of HS2, the high-speed rail network that will link London, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester.

She said: “It is incomprehensible that the government is ignoring all the evidence that shows that this is nothing more than a devastating waste of over £100bn of taxpayers’ money, while the country is crippled by debt and austerity.”

Many of the trees are more than 100 years old, forming a small park lining one of the busiest and most polluted roads in London.

The London plane trees that were a feature of nearby St James Gardens, a park and former burial ground behind the station, were cut down at the end of 2017. The remains of an estimated 61,000 bodies are being exhumed to make way for HS2.

A spokesperson for HS2 said: “We recognise the importance of the trees and gardens around Euston to people living and working near the station and we are working with London borough of Camden to ensure that all trees lost during construction are replaced and other open spaces in the local community are enhanced.”

This article titled "Priest to chain herself to tree at Euston in protest against HS2 felling plans" was written by Gwyn Topham Transport correspondent, for The Guardian on Thursday 11 January 2018 05.54pm

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