CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Protesters take HS2 devastation mural to City Hall

'Children are forced to breathe in polluted air, people are forced out of their homes'

23 February, 2018 — By Helen Chapman

Protesters outside City Hall on Wednesday

HIGH Speed 2 protesters stood outside City Hall with a mural depicting the trees axed to make way for the controversial train routes.

The artwork by Dan Llywelyn Hall, who once painted a portrait of the Queen, came with an open letter calling for a rethink over redevelopment work around Euston station. The authorities have already ignored a priest chaining herself to a tree and deputations to parliament as the reality of work on the £56billion rail line to Birmingham, and later cities in the north, becomes clear.

Mr Llywelyn Hall Hall said: “In Euston Square Gardens a couple of weeks ago, 28 trees were felled to make way for a temporary taxi rank to service HS2 vehicles. Euston Road is already one of the most polluted roads in Europe. The mural should help visualise the problem and understand the destruction being caused. It should help inhabit and integrate the problem, which is a capitalist, Stalinist massacre of our trees.”

Dorothea Hackman, who chairs the Camden Civic Society, said: “HS2 is causing devastation to our houses and worsening pollution which affects our children’s health. Safe levels of pollution and air quality are now in breach because of HS2. It is all without a defence.”

The protest urged London Mayor Sadiq Khan to take more action with residents wanting the work to be considered a public health issue. Protester Jo Hurford said: “Sadiq Khan is pontificating about air quality. The first thing to be done to help should be the trees. There are no public schemes or station designs showing plans for HS2 construction. At the moment the tree felling is to make way for the construction without clear design and planning.”

As one of the areas worst affected by HS2 work, Camden is facing nearly two decades of disruption and demolition. The project is supported by both the Conservatives and Labour at a national level but has been met with fierce condemnation locally.

Mimi Romilly, who lives in Primrose Hill, said: “This is disgraceful. It is greed at work. Children are forced to breathe in polluted air, people are forced out of their homes and people are being killed by pollution – all for the sake of making money. It’s an environmental nightmare. It’s causing damage to vulnerable people, poor people and businesses.”

She said MPs should bring HS2 back to parliament for debate. “Everyone in Camden is affected by this, which is why we are calling on people to sign our petition that needs signing by March 21. We need the issue to be debated in parliament again.”

Jane Gull, a filmmaker who was forced out of her Regent’s Park home two years ago after the building was bought by HS2 Limited, the company set up by the government to oversee the project. She said: “It’s not just about me, it’s about the bigger picture. I feel like we don’t have a voice. The mayor announced his pledge to make the city green yet this isn’t happening with HS2 going ahead.”

HS2 Limited said: “We recognise the importance of the trees and gardens around Euston to people living and working near the station and we are working with the London Borough of Camden to ensure that all trees lost during construction are replaced and other open spaces in the local community are enhanced.”

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