HS2 CHAIRMAN Allan Cook has resigned, several months before his appointment was due to end.
The Department for Transport said Mr Cook will leave at the end of July, rather than staying until the end of the year.
Mr Cook said: ‘As we enter a new phase of the project, the Department will start the search for my successor who can give their full focus to the future momentum of the project as the railway expands further north and is, as I expect, delivered in full.’
Transport secretary Grant Shapps added: ‘I thank Allan for the dedication he has shown in his role of chairman. His work steering the project through the Stocktake and Notice to Proceed ensures that HS2 is set on the right course for the future, and the project can advance with optimism.’
Meanwhile, in a separate statement, HS2 Ltd has appealed to the protestors who have tunnelled under Euston Square Gardens in their campaign against HS2, warning that they are putting themselves and other people at risk.
The company emphasised that it is in legal possession of the gardens. They separate Euston station from Euston Road and currently form part of an HS2 work site.
It continued: ‘To make matters worse, activists have been spreading false claims of mistreatment by the diligent HS2 and emergency service personnel who are working around the clock to ensure their safety, and encouraging their followers to make calls to 999, which is irresponsible during the current national lockdown and also unnecessary.
‘The safety of people trespassing and the safety of HS2 staff and agents in this operation is of paramount importance. We are doing all we can to end this illegal action quickly and safely, including providing those underground with air – despite claims to the contrary.’
One activist, Larch Maxey, has applied for a High Court injunction requiring HS2 to stop its eviction attempts but Mr Justice Knowles refused the application, adding that Dr Maxey should ‘cease any further tunnelling activity and is not to cause any other person to engage in tunnelling’.
It is reported that up to nine activists are still underground, and that there have been ‘clashes’ with bailiffs in the last few hours.