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Efforts to reduce air pollution in Camden ‘hampered’ by HS2, campaigners claim

17:00 14 April 2014

Joggers on Hampstead Heath last Friday, as London Ambulance Service has seen a rise in the number of people calling 999 for help with breathing difficulties, asthma and heart problems. Picture: Yui Mok

Joggers on Hampstead Heath last Friday, as London Ambulance Service has seen a rise in the number of people calling 999 for help with breathing difficulties, asthma and heart problems. Picture: Yui Mok

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Efforts to reduce air pollution in Camden will be “seriously hampered” by the proposed construction of the High Speed 2 rail line, according to the council and environmental campaigners.

Air quality in the borough is already said to be struggling to reach limits set by the European Union and the prospect of a major redevelopment of HS2’s London terminal, Euston station, has led to concerns over residents’ health.

In Camden, 7.9 per cent of all adult mortality is attributable to air pollution – slightly above the London average of 7.2 per cent.

Campaigners, council leaders and hundreds of residents met at Cecil Sharp House in Primrose Hill to hear from those who believe HS2 spells even worse news for clean air in Camden.

Martin Sheppard, of Save Camden from HS2, said: “Air pollution is a bigger cause of early death than obesity, alcohol and road accidents. HS2’s current plans for Euston threaten 10 years of gridlock in Camden, major damage to the environment and a heavy increase in pollution. Camden must not be made the victim of HS2.”

Walkers on Hampstead Heath have been given a particularly hazy view of London’s skyline recently as unusually high levels of pollution drifted over the city.

Children, the elderly and the vulnerable were all advised by the government to stay indoors as a result.

Cllr Pat Callaghan, cabinet member for adult social care and health, said: “When we consider large scale construction or developments such as HS2, they have the potential to disproportionately impact on communities that are already experiencing health inequalities.

“The increasing traffic associated with construction works will potentially contribute towards worsening air quality.

“The evidence is clear that air quality impacts upon health, especially chronic illnesses such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – of which there is a high incidence in Camden.

HS2 Ltd insists the Code of Construction Practice it has set out will require its contractors “to manage dust, air pollution, odour and exhaust emission during the construction works”.

A spokesman said: “Measures will be implemented to limit emissions from construction plant and vehicles [and] the site layout will be planned to locate machinery and dust-causing activities away from sensitive receptors.”

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