The independent London newspaper

With HS2 the health concerns of air pollution must be addressed for Camden people

13 April, 2017

• ON first hearing the HS2 bill had been given the green light I was, to say the least, extremely disappointed.

However I was quickly heartened by the sentiments expressed within the many comments of those still opposing HS2, which appeared in the New Journal on March 2, 9, and 16, namely and respectively: Martin Sheppard, Nicholas Wood, Dorothea Hackman, Karen Dawson, Stephen Plowden, and Mimi Romilly, as they highlighted many of my own fears surrounding this impending HS2 catastrophe, that will ravage our community for the next 20 years.

These fears were quickly reaffirmed, and brought even more starkly into focus, at a meeting I attended organised by HS2 Ltd on March 16 at the Temperance Hospital, Hampstead Road, a road, that according to HS2 representatives will have to be narrowed to half its existing size for the next four years or so, while work is carried out on the Hampstead bridge.

And while this is happening, that narrowed road will still be expected to accommodate the existing traffic capacity, and the extra 800 HGVs making their hundreds of daily trips; some no doubt, loaded to the hilt with toxic waste.

Therefore, unless HS2 Ltd are persuaded to moderate their “master plan”, which they said had not been finalised as yet, over the next two decades, Camden is likely to resemble that of a “war zone”.

So how can we best protect our health and environment, from the devastation of this unwanted invasion?

Fortunately important legal decisions have been handed down by the High Court against the government for failing to tackle illegal levels of air pollution; saying the government’s proposals were “too feeble”.

And just recently, the Commons-appointed environment committee, denounced the government’s air quality ministers, demanding they speed up their action in lowering dangerous nitrogen dioxides (NO2) in the city.

Support for a “clean air act” has now moved up the agenda of health concerns for most people, so the onus should now be on HS2 Ltd, to ensure that during the construction of this project, they will not end up pumping out extra tons of toxic emissions that will worsen London’s already polluted atmosphere.

Just because parliament has given HS2 Ltd the go-ahead, this does not mean it can bypass any legal requirements concerning levels of air pollution.

Heathrow’s third runway has been delayed by similar disputes related to arguments about increases in pollution, so why should the health concerns of Camden’s residents be treated any differently? One is a plane, the other a train, but the issues remain the same.

It would be ironic, and a travesty of justice, if Camden taxpayers – while being forced to suffer this life-changing upheaval – were to end up contributing to the payment of a fine for breaches of London’s air pollution, caused by a significant increase in emissions from this HS2 project.

Queens Crescent, NW5


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