CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Stop this unnecessary destruction by HS2

09 November, 2017

• NEXT Monday, Cardington Street will be permanently closed.

Soon afterwards HS2 Ltd’s contractors will take possession of the Thistle and Ibis Hotels and other nearby buildings to prepare them for demolition in 2018. St James’ Gardens is also shortly to be destroyed.

There is absolutely no need for these wicked acts of destruction. It has been clear for years that HS2 is a very bad scheme. The case against it has been immensely strengthened by Michael Byng’s recent estimate that the cost will be £106billion, almost twice the official estimate of £56billion.

Moreover, even if HS2 were a much better scheme than in fact it is, the terminus should not be at Euston, but at Old Oak Common.

Changing the terminus from Euston to Old Oak Common would impose a time penalty on those HS2 passengers, probably a minority, for whom Euston would be the more convenient interchange, but that loss of benefit does not outweigh the huge saving in costs, both resource costs and social and environmental damage, that would be achieved by not building the line east of Old Oak Common.

This point has been argued in detail for years, and the government’s attempts at rebuttal are simply wrong.

What I cannot understand is Camden Council’s passivity. It seems prepared to allow the present plan for the terminus to be at Euston to go ahead without a fight, pressing only for measures of mitigation and compensation which, even if successful, would not avoid huge and unnecessary damage.

What makes Camden’s stance all the more puzzling is that Lord Adonis, who, when he was the Labour minister concerned officially put HS2 on the agenda and now heads the National Infrastructure Commission, has declared himself against Euston.

Camden Council should now ask Lord Adonis, also the local MP Keir Starmer, to join it in a deputation to the government to insist that no irreversible acts of destruction are done until the question of the London terminus has been properly examined.

There should be plenty of support in parliament for this initiative. When the economic affairs committee of the House of Lords looked at HS2, it asked for the case for Old Oak Common to be considered again.

In what I believe was an unprecedented act of discourtesy, the government simply ignored this recommendation.

STEPHEN PLOWDEN
Albert Street, NW1

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