Abseiling bailiffs remove eco-activist Swampy from bamboo tower standing in way of HS2

Bailiffs abseiling from a crane removed veteran eco-warrior ‘Swampy’ from a bamboo tower today built to delay construction on HS2.

Protesters erected the tower holding British activist Dan Hooper, 47, in a London river to block a bridge for a road through a forest for the multi-billion pound train project.

Two black-clad officials suspended from the crane attached a harness to Swampy before slowly lowering him to the River Colne in Denham Country Park.

The veteran eco-warrior was led off by police for questioning and it is not yet known whether he faces criminal charges.

Bailiffs abseiling from a crane removed veteran eco-warrior 'Swampy' from a bamboo tower today built to delay construction on HS2 in the River Colne in Denham Country Park

Bailiffs abseiling from a crane removed veteran eco-warrior 'Swampy' from a bamboo tower today built to delay construction on HS2 in the River Colne in Denham Country Park

Bailiffs abseiling from a crane removed veteran eco-warrior ‘Swampy’ from a bamboo tower today built to delay construction on HS2 in the River Colne in Denham Country Park 

In a huge HS2 and Police operation Police climbers were brought in today to pull eco warrior Dan Hooper (pictured), 47, out of a 30 feet high bamboo structure in the River Colne in Denham Country Park

In a huge HS2 and Police operation Police climbers were brought in today to pull eco warrior Dan Hooper (pictured), 47, out of a 30 feet high bamboo structure in the River Colne in Denham Country Park

In a huge HS2 and Police operation Police climbers were brought in today to pull eco warrior Dan Hooper (pictured), 47, out of a 30 feet high bamboo structure in the River Colne in Denham Country Park

Two abseiling bailiffs remove Swampy from his next on top of the structure today, a day after he started the protest

Two abseiling bailiffs remove Swampy from his next on top of the structure today, a day after he started the protest

Two abseiling bailiffs remove Swampy from his next on top of the structure today, a day after he started the protest

Swampy erected the bamboo structure with a sign reading 'end of the line for HS2' (pictured) with the help of other campaigners on the weekend

Swampy erected the bamboo structure with a sign reading 'end of the line for HS2' (pictured) with the help of other campaigners on the weekend

Police are lowered from a crane to remove the protester

Police are lowered from a crane to remove the protester

Swampy erected the bamboo structure with a sign reading ‘end of the line for HS2’ (left) with the help of other campaigners on the weekend. Right: Police are lowered from a crane to remove the protester

Swampy said HS2 was ‘an absolutely abysmal project causing deforestation across the country’ on Monday.

He said: ‘We are blocking this bridge from crossing the river as they cannot fell the ancient oaks on the other side without it.

‘HS2 is causing devastation throughout the land and is wasting over £200 billion of public money. 

‘We are living in times of climate emergency and we will not stand for it.’ 

It comes just two months after he staged a sit-in for more than a week up a 70-foot tall tree in Jones’ Hill Wood in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, in a protest which saw his 16-year-old son arrested.

A police officer in a crane talks to Swampy before he is removed from the bamboo structure in the middle of the river

A police officer in a crane talks to Swampy before he is removed from the bamboo structure in the middle of the river

A police officer in a crane talks to Swampy before he is removed from the bamboo structure in the middle of the river

Police are lowered down from a crane above the bamboo structure before Swampy is removed

Police are lowered down from a crane above the bamboo structure before Swampy is removed

Police are lowered down from a crane above the bamboo structure before Swampy is removed

The veteran eco-warrior was led off by police for questioning and it is not yet known whether he faces criminal charges

The veteran eco-warrior was led off by police for questioning and it is not yet known whether he faces criminal charges

The veteran eco-warrior was led off by police for questioning and it is not yet known whether he faces criminal charges

Swampy, son of middle-class Berkshire parents Peter and Jill, was first involved in environmentalism when he became the poster boy for protests against the A34 Newbury bypass in 1996.

He then spent seven days and seven nights living in a tunnel dug by campaigners to stop the £50 million A30 dual carriageway link road in Devon a year later.  

The protest at Denham Country Park is one of several along HS2’s proposed route, which protesters say is destroying what’s left of England’s ancient woodlands and their fragile ecosystems.

A spokesperson for HS2 Ltd, the government body behind the scheme, said the project had been ‘repeatedly and excessively targeted by political activists’ whose ‘criminal activity’ was a threat to the safety of the public and its workers.

Enforcement agents try to bring down Daniel 'Swampy' Hooper from a structure built by protesters at the HS2 high-speed railway construction site in Denham

Enforcement agents try to bring down Daniel 'Swampy' Hooper from a structure built by protesters at the HS2 high-speed railway construction site in Denham

Enforcement agents try to bring down Daniel ‘Swampy’ Hooper from a structure built by protesters at the HS2 high-speed railway construction site in Denham

Police officers detain activists after Swampy is lowered into the River Colne in Denham Country Park

Police officers detain activists after Swampy is lowered into the River Colne in Denham Country Park

Police officers detain activists after Swampy is lowered into the River Colne in Denham Country Park

An activist is dragged through the water after being detained during the protest in the River Colne in Denham Country Park

An activist is dragged through the water after being detained during the protest in the River Colne in Denham Country Park

An activist is dragged through the water after being detained during the protest in the River Colne in Denham Country Park

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 100 billion pounds ($133 billion) – 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. 

Enforcement agents try to bring down Daniel 'Swampy' Hooper from a structure built by protesters at the HS2 high-speed railway construction site in Denham

Enforcement agents try to bring down Daniel 'Swampy' Hooper from a structure built by protesters at the HS2 high-speed railway construction site in Denham

Enforcement agents try to bring down Daniel ‘Swampy’ Hooper from a structure built by protesters at the HS2 high-speed railway construction site in Denham

Swampy is lowered from the bamboo structure by officials at the River Colne in Denham Country Park

Swampy is lowered from the bamboo structure by officials at the River Colne in Denham Country Park

Swampy is lowered from the bamboo structure by officials at the River Colne in Denham Country Park

Police officers detain Daniel 'Swampy' Hooper at the HS2 high-speed railway construction site in Denham

Police officers detain Daniel 'Swampy' Hooper at the HS2 high-speed railway construction site in Denham

Police officers detain Daniel ‘Swampy’ Hooper at the HS2 high-speed railway construction site in Denham

Anti-HS2 activists set up a protection camp on the opposite side of the river to halt woodland work and destruction of priority habitat wet woodland, campaigners said.

The public nature reserve is a designated site of scientific interest (SSSI), vital to biodiversity and home to approximately 2000 different wild species.

Sam Smithson, environmental protector, said: ‘Every single day we are witnessing the landscape drastically changing, HS2 is felling trees and irreparably destroying nature before our eyes.

‘We’re in a global climate emergency. HS2 Ltd. and the UK government are implicit in mass ecocide crime being committed.

A balaclava clad activist, dressed in waders and a waterproof coat, gets into the river to help with the protest tower

A balaclava clad activist, dressed in waders and a waterproof coat, gets into the river to help with the protest tower

A balaclava clad activist, dressed in waders and a waterproof coat, gets into the river to help with the protest tower

Officials and security at the site in Uxbridge exchange words with one of the activists as the watery sit-in began yesterday

Officials and security at the site in Uxbridge exchange words with one of the activists as the watery sit-in began yesterday

Officials and security at the site in Uxbridge exchange words with one of the activists as the watery sit-in began yesterday

‘This is a non-violent peaceful protest and we will continue to do this until the government takes its own advice by acting now to stop biodiversity loss which means stopping HS2.’

The HS2 Rebellion group claim that the ‘needless destruction’ of ‘irreplaceable habitat’ is ‘totally avoidable’, as it is happening over a mile away from where the High Speed rail line will be built.

An alternative plan for the relocation has been highlighted to HS2 which would avoid destroying the wet woodland, be cheaper for the taxpayer and better for the environment, they say.

Denham Country Park is a flood mitigation area, and the temporary access road will increase flood risk for downstream communities in Uxbridge and Staines.

Environmental protectors and independent ecologists have been gathering evidence relating to potential wildlife crimes.

Despite the height, Swampy appeared to be enjoying himself as he placed himself in front of the path of the projected line

Despite the height, Swampy appeared to be enjoying himself as he placed himself in front of the path of the projected line

Despite the height, Swampy appeared to be enjoying himself as he placed himself in front of the path of the projected line

Swampy - real name Daniel Hooper - was perched on a 30 foot tall bamboo tower in the middle of the River Colne in Uxbridge

Swampy - real name Daniel Hooper - was perched on a 30 foot tall bamboo tower in the middle of the River Colne in Uxbridge

Swampy – real name Daniel Hooper – was perched on a 30 foot tall bamboo tower in the middle of the River Colne in Uxbridge

The clearance for the haul road is tearing through bird nesting habitats, dormouse habitats, otter habitats, and potential bat roosts in mature trees, HS2 rebellion says.

Campaigners are urging local authorities to call HS2 to account, and are pleading with the government to ‘lead by example’, back the CEE Bill, and stop HS2.

Swampy’s arrest coincides with the first of HS2’s two 558ft-long tunnelling machines arriving in the UK in more than 1,000 parts. 

The two contraptions were transported from Germany to a construction site in Hertfordshire near the M25. 

They will be assembled over the coming months before they start digging the high-speed railway’s Chiltern tunnels in spring next year.

To dig the 10-mile burrows – the longest on HS2 – the tunnel boring machines (TBMs) will work non-stop for about three and a half years.

The two tunnels will go as deep as 80m below the ground to reduce the impact of the high-speed trains on communities and countryside on the route.

HS2’s first 558ft-long tunnelling machines have arrived in the UK in more than 1,000 parts

The two contraptions were transported from Germany to a construction site in Hertfordshire near the M25. Pictured: : Construction workers continue work on the entrance to the HS2 Chiltern tunnels in Rickmansworth yesterday

The two contraptions were transported from Germany to a construction site in Hertfordshire near the M25. Pictured: : Construction workers continue work on the entrance to the HS2 Chiltern tunnels in Rickmansworth yesterday

The two contraptions were transported from Germany to a construction site in Hertfordshire near the M25. Pictured: : Construction workers continue work on the entrance to the HS2 Chiltern tunnels in Rickmansworth yesterday

 

The tunnels will be 9.1m (29.5ft) in diameter and lined with concrete as they go. The devices, named ‘tunnel boring machines’, will convert chalk and dust into slurry which will be treated and used for landscaping.

Each has a ‘cutterhead’ at the front which rotates up to 3.2 times a minute as it drills through the earth, collecting material which will be moved backwards via a conveyor belt. Each machine will remove 2.7 million cubic metres of earth and rock.

They will both have up to 17 crew members, plus 30 in the tunnel behind, and are steered by tiny adjustments to hydraulic ‘rams’ that grip the tunnel wall to move forward.

The Chiltern Hills passenger tunnel will be the UK’s longest, measuring a third of the length of the Channel Tunnel.

The digging will help form phase one of the high-speed line, which will connect London and the West Midlands.

There will be 32 miles of tunnel in this phase, with the longest and deepest being the Chiltern Tunnel.

The London Tunnels will be 13 miles (21km) long, with a maximum depth of 164ft (50m). Phase two will extend into the East Midlands and the North.

HS2 Ltd chief executive Mark Thurston said the arrival of the TBMs is ‘a major step forward’.

He said: ‘The launch of our first tunnelling machines will be a defining moment in the history of HS2 and our work to deliver a high-speed railway that will offer a low-carbon alternative for journeys across the UK.’

The 2,000-tonne TBMs were built by specialist firm Herrenknecht in Schwanau, south-west Germany, before being taken apart and shipped to the UK.

They each cost tens of millions of pounds and were designed specifically for the mix of chalk and flints under the Chilterns.

The machines will operate as self-contained factories.

In addition to digging, they will line the tunnel walls with concrete segments as they move forward at a speed of 15m a day. 

Thames Valley Police has been approached for comment. 

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