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Camden Council: ‘We must continue to fight HS2, the Higgins report is a pyrrhic victory’

11:12 17 March 2014

Cllr Sarah Hayward, leader of Camden Council, speaks out about the

Cllr Sarah Hayward, leader of Camden Council, speaks out about the 'devastation' of HS2 at a public meeting in January. Picture: Polly Hancock

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The leader of Camden Council has said the fight against HS2 must continue - describing a report recommending changes to the controversial high speed rail link as a ‘pyrrhic victory’ for the borough.

Labour leader, Cllr Sarah Hayward, responded to a report made public by HS2 chairman Sir David Higgins this morning.

In it, Sir David recommends reconsidering a controversial section of the route that would decimate parts of Camden Town, as he challenged politicians to pave the way for faster building of the new high speed-line to reduce costs.

He proposed a larger development at Euston - the projects southern terminus - but added that plans to link HS2 with HS1, the London to Kent Channel Tunnel high-speed rail link at St Pancras International, should be reconsidered.

Sir David, the former London Olympics guru, also called for a new look at ways of improving connections between phase two and the existing railway.

Cllr Hayward said: “The report represents something of a pyrrhic victory for Camden.

“There’s no doubt that our campaigning, with our communities, has led to the recognition that HS2 will devastate Camden.

“We welcome the recognition that government plans for both the Euston station and the link are deeply flawed.

“However, this report is simply making recommendations to government.

“It is for ministers to decide to abandon the link and go back to the drawing board on the station.

“Until they do, the current plans are those that parliament will consider and ultimately HS2 will build.

“Therefore we must keep fighting.

“As it stands, Camden still faces unacceptable levels of blight with 80 per cent of the homes set to be demolished being in Camden.

“While we cautiously welcome a report that exposes the many flaws in the HS2 scheme we need concrete guarantees.

“Ministers need to;

“Agree to go back to the drawing board on the station, using Camden’s working group to transparently develop designs,

“Decide quickly to cancel the plans for the link, exposed as costly and devastating,

“Act on the substandard and unfair mitigation and compensation arrangement for Camden and our residents,

“Be clear that the Higgins report requires fundamental changes that the Environmental Statement will need to be re-written and re-consulted.

“I urge people who care about Camden not to treat this report as a victory, but simply as a staging post.

“We must continue to fight this scheme and for better outcomes for Camden if government insists on pressing ahead.”

Camden Council has been at the forefront of the campaign to oppose HS2 which it claims will result in a decade of disruption for the borough.

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