Rising asthma rate fears for people living around HS2 construction site

Council wants spoil taken away by rail

Monday, 11th July — By Tom Foot

hs2 cnjnove5 Image 2020-11-05 at 09.31.39 (1)

A HS2 digger in Hampstead Road

A WARNING that alarming rates of asthma in homes next to a railway construction site will worsen if HS2 backtracks on its construction rubble removal commitments, was issued this week.

Council chiefs warned of broken promises as a new review of how work will take place in Euston began.
HS2 had previously said it would remove “spoil” by rail, but now 100,000 more lorry journeys could be ordered to take it away by road.

In a letter to a review – commissioned by the Department of Transport – Camden leader Georgia Gould and chief executive Jenny Rowlands said: “Over half of GP surgeries in Camden report higher than average asthma rates in their patients, with Regent’s Park estate having one of the highest rates of asthma in the borough.”

Cllr Gould and Ms Rowlands added: “A number of their [the review’s] points that Camden supports include an independent congestion study into the affect of additional construction vehicles on Camden roads and a review of asthma prevalence in the wards around the HS2 construction site, due to an increase in nitrogen ­dioxide on Hampstead Road.”

The “independent” review is being chaired by Doug Oakervee – a former chairman of HS2 who has been asked to look specifically into HS2’s “spoil” removal policies.

In February 2016, Camden Council and HS2 agreed a list of “assurances” that turned out not to be legally binding in any way.

The wording of these pledges has also been criticised as flimsy and allowing leeway for backtracking.

HS2 had only given an assurance “to seek to maximise” the amount of rubble removed by rail from Euston station.

The Regent’s Park estate has already been taken over by HS2 lorries during the demolition on land and railways around Euston but things are going to get a lot worse when construction of the new terminus begins. Designs for the station were unveiled earlier this year.

In a statement, Cllr Gould said: “This is an area where thousands of our residents live, where children walk to school and play.

“They are growing up in a construction site and these plans will leave them breathing in harmful fumes and in greater danger when crossing the roads or cycling.

“This is a community already facing poor air quality and some of the worst deprivation in the country.
“Their voices and health cannot be a casualty of this project.”

HS2 Ltd, the company in charge of the government-backed project, says using lorries “significantly shortens the construction” of the new Euston station, currently not expected to be complete until 2036.

Its spokesperson said: “We recently revealed an updated design for the HS2 station that reduces the amount of spoil to be removed at Euston and shortens the construction period significantly.

“We are exploring options for removing spoil from the site at Euston and how to minimise impacts.”

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