CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Rats flee HS2 dig to cause havoc on Regent’s Park Estate

HS2 claims it has had no reports of rats but council says it has increased patrols to tackle issue

17 October, 2019 — By Tom Foot

Patsy Downey: ‘The pest control man is very good here but he is totally overwhelmed’

RATS are fleeing drains and sewers because of HS2 railway digging and surging up through holes in the ground causing havoc across the Regent’s Park estate.

The vermin problem is “a thousand times worse” than before the railway demolition works began in 2017, several residents have told the New Journal.

Patsy Downey, who has lived in Varndell Street since 1971, said: “It has got totally out of control it is a direct result of the latest excavation by HS2. At the moment, I’m sitting looking out of the window and I can see the rats. There are five families of rats out there playing with their children in the grass.”

She added: “We’ve always had rats around this area, but now it’s a thousand times worse. But now the rats’ nests have been disturbed, they have to find somewhere to go. The pest control man is very good here but he is totally overwhelmed. It’s either him, or the magpies see them off. Otherwise it’s a free for all.”

Ms Downey used to work as a nurse at the National Temperance Hospital, which has been demolished to make way for the controversial high-speed route linking Euston to Birmingham.

The £100billion HS2 project has flattened big buildings around Euston station, shut roads, and boarded-up housing blocks and public parks.

Ms Downey said: “Regent’s Park estate has gone since HS2 came along. What’s happening to the future of our children is terrifying. All the play areas taken away from them, pollution is everywhere. HS2 are riding roughshod through Regent’s Park estate.”

A dead rat seen by the New Journal saw on the estate

Residents have sent in films of a bin full of squabbling rats and the New Journal saw dead and alive rats on a walk around the estate this week. Other residents said rats “the size of bunny rabbits” can now be seen “on the way to the bus stops” and in broad daylight when “before they were normally only seen when you were staggering home at 3am”.

One of the health concerns is that rats can carry potentially fatal Weil’s disease in their urine.

Claire Lazenby, who lives in Mornington Terrace, on the other side of the railway, said: “We can hear them climbing through the walls up to the other storeys. One has even been seen in our main hallway.”

She said she had been told by Camden pest control that the “works on the railway are forcing the rats to move out and up the drains” in “there hundreds”.

At the Ampthill Square estate – the tower blocks facing Harrington Square – residents believe rats fleeing HS2 are to blame for gnawing through wiring that has disabled the estate’s buzzer entry system. Camden pest control has increased patrols but residents say HS2 should be footing the bill for more help.

HS2 Ltd, the company in charge of the construction, is currently tearing down former council housing blocks – Silverdale, Ainsdale and Eskdale – and is preparing to start a significant new phase of works down on the railway “cutting”. The plan is to widen the railway lines coming into Euston station under the Hampstead Road bridge.

It will send up to 200 lorries a day down Stanhope Street and Robert Street, with the trucks allowed to make a new right-hand turn into Hampstead Road and down to Euston Road.

“Please tell me you are on a wind up,” one objection to a lorry routes planning application to Camden Council this week. “What do you want to do, ruin everyone’s lives on this estate until we are dead?”

HS2 works in Euston are due to go on until at least 2031.

An HS2 Ltd statement said: “We put measures in place to prevent rodent activity on and around our worksites. No significant rodent activity has been reported on the Regent’s Park estate. We continue to work closely with the London Borough of Camden pest control team to share best practice and monitor the area.”

Camden Council said it had written to residents outlining actions it has taken with HS2 to control the rats “issue”, adding: “Our pest control team has increased its number of visits to the area, carrying these out on a weekly basis to help control the issue.”

Companies lobbying to keep Euston on track

CORPORATE lobbyists are working in “overdrive” to make sure the Euston stretch of HS2 is not scrapped, it has been claimed, writes Tom Foot.

Sources close to an independent review of the over-budget HS2 costs, launched by prime minister Boris Johnson, said firms and bodies with vested interests in £6billion-valued land around the station have launched into attack mode.

“There is a lot at stake and we are seeing them come out now in full force – they are in overdrive” an insider said.

Under review: How far HS2 work in Euston has got so far

The senior source confirmed the review, which is due to be published in the next fortnight, is “seriously considering” the possibility of terminating the railway line at Old Oak Common in west London instead of Euston.

This alternative was regularly suggested by campaigners before demolition work began; the Bree Louise pub has already been bulldozed, while the graves were exhumed from the ancient burial ground at St James’s Gardens. Camden is facing at least a decade of further disruption if those pushing for a terminus at Euston get their way.

The review’s central findings are still “up in the air” and it has not yet been decided whether it will make “recommendations” or simply present a series of “options” for ministers to consider.

HS2 Limited, the company set up to run the project, has also seized the opportunity this week to release latest images of its demolition work in Euston, showing how land valued at £7billion has been cleared away and is ready for development. The investment company Lendlease, which has first dibs on buying the land under a deal struck last year, are among several firms to make statements calling for the project to continue.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who is in charge of Transport for London, has already demanded the Euston project is not scaled back, as has the Confederation of Business Industry (CBI).

The Unite union is protesting outside the Euston construction site over access to its members and worker rights and sick pay.

A DfT spokesman said: “The new secretary of state has established an independent review into HS2 which will provide the department with clear advice on how and whether the project should proceed.  “The prime minister made clear that the review should not unnecessarily delay progress should the government choose to continue.”

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