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Former Director of Public Prosecutions claims HS2 plans ‘break European Convention on Human Rights’

Keir Starmer QC, former director of public prosecutions, warned HS2 compensation proposals could violate the European Convention on Human Rights. Picture: Dominic Lipinski Keir Starmer QC, former director of public prosecutions, warned HS2 compensation proposals could violate the European Convention on Human Rights. Picture: Dominic Lipinski

Thursday, December 12, 2013
10:00 AM

A former Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has claimed government measures to compensate those affected by HS2 construction are neither “independent” nor “impartial” – and even breach the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

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Keir Starmer QC, the recently departed DPP, said the government had failed to come up with a compensation model that properly considered residents and traders affected by the £43billion project.

He also noted “a failure to propose a mechanism for determining claims for compensation which is independent and impartial”.

Robert Latham, Chair of the HS2 Euston Forum, said: “Euston is a high value, densely populated area - it is the area of the country where the impact of HS2 will be greatest.

“If the government cannot afford fair compensation for those who live or work in Euston, it cannot afford HS2.”

This latest twist in the HS2 project comes as government plans revealed construction would even see the usually tranquil Hampstead suffering over a decade of trucks and lorries passing through its streets.

Although the major impact of building work will be seen around Euston and Camden Town, the recently published 50,000-page draft HS2 Bill revealed Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) would be passing through Hampstead’s Rosslyn Hill, Haverstock Hill and Hampstead High Street, and would “adversely affect the amenity of residents”.

Even the fragile Heath Street, which has already been forced to close in recent years due to damage, will be used as an HGV transport route.

The Heath and Hampstead Society said the proposals could lead to “crumbling streets”, “rising pollution” and “dreadful” levels of traffic and noise.

Frank Harding, vice-chair of the Heath and Hampstead Society, said the plans were “very concerning”.

“Apart from the increase in noise and traffic there are other environmental impacts to consider,” he said. “The lanes here were built at a time when there were horses and carts.

“We’ve made great efforts to try to divert the bigger vehicles around Hampstead but the HS2 plans fly in the face of all that. It’s unacceptable.”

Business owners in Hampstead have already said they would try to seek compensation from the government should the impact of HS2 construction damage their shopfronts or buildings.

Lorenzo Stella, 47, general manager of La Gaffe Hotel in Heath Street, said he had already suffered cracked windows from HGVs passing by his business.

“It’s going to be a disaster,” he said. “You can actually feel our building shake when some of these bigger trucks go by – when HS2 construction begins it’ll be even worse.”

Councillor for Hampstead Town Chris Knight – who criticised the proposals as “shameful” – said he was in discussions with Camden Council to see if the “diesel belching” HGVs could be routed around Hampstead.

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