Opinion: It’s a busy time for saving the planet

Camden Civic Society's Dorothea Hackman is concerned about the damage HS2 will do to Camden's enviro

Camden Civic Society's Dorothea Hackman is concerned about the damage HS2 will do to Camden's environment. - Credit: Archant

You would have thought that the central government review of High Speed 2 (HS2) under Oakervee, reporting in the autumn, would spell some respite for the destruction around Euston.

But no, they carry on with preparatory works which means demolishing more blocks of flats on the Regents Park Estate, and are still seeking to fell some of the few remaining mature trees.

It was so apposite to hear the Luke 19 gospel reading last Sunday about mocking those who start to build without reckoning the cost and then cannot complete.

The HS2 utilities threat to the trees in Eversholt Street continues, and even the North Gower Street tree would be felled for utilities if they could. There is an outrageously transparent suggestion that they would move the temporary taxi rank from the west to the east of Euston Square Gardens. Presumably this is to cut down those trees as part of preparatory works, as they were not scheduled to be felled before main works needed a construction compound there. Even Camden Council have suggested that the north south station concourse could replace the gardens, so keen is everyone to build more high rise commercial blocks along Euston Road out of the protected sight lines.

Chris Packham is organising a reforestation of Euston trees at 2pm on September 28, so bring a tree in a pot! chrispackham.co.uk/euston-we-have-a-problem

In the event the HS2 track is not constructed, we need to be ready to campaign for the restoration of our green spaces from the desolation to the west of Euston. Developers will want to profit from the pain of wresting two hectares of green space from the community and digging up our dead (I know they came from Westminster, but they have been with us 200 years). It is not acceptable to pretend that the lucrative commercial exploitation will compensate the people who live here - there is no "trickle down" in austerity economics.

Who knew that Camden Council has been sending our rubbish to be burnt in the Edmonton incinerator? That is now closing, but the five London boroughs who use it are supporting an even larger incinerator to be built. This is not how to reduce our carbon footprint! It flies in the face of Camden acknowledging a Climate Emergency exists, as actions need to match words. There is a massive job of retrofitting commercial and council buildings and homes with insulation and efficient heating, which requires a central government review of allocation to local authority funding. Meanwhile the council can encourage solar panels, electric vehicles and reducing single use plastic, but we need radical action now to reach carbon equilibrium, and then reduction.

Congratulations to Extinction Rebellion Camden for a cheerful swarming of Britannia Junction, raising awareness of urgency, and the North London Uprising last weekend. Central government has declared a climate emergency in response to the April rebellion, but then taken no action, so the October rebellion follows. Meanwhile schoolchildren and students need support on Friday September 20 for the international strikeday, and remember no cars at all on September 22!

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This whole year Granby Terrace has been closed, for no apparent reason except the very occasional access to the siding. This has punished the residents in the area not only by cutting them off and imprisoning them in a construction site and preventing east west access, but also forcing traffic into quiet residential streets and impacting local small businesses, repeated for Drummond Street. The proposed "meanwhile" use of the Maria Fidelis/Starcross Street site sees community uses, green spaces and trees taking second place.

HS2 are for example blocking access to the White Mustache Pub (aka Sovereign) on Stanhope Parade, so it seems they have more than one way to try and reduce local amenities: HS2 seized the Bree Louise pub and knocked it down saying they needed to build a nine metre thick retaining wall, but it will only be one meter and they have gained an extra eight metres for commercial development at the community's cost. Ainsdale blocks have been knocked down with what seemed like an astonishing amount of dust polluting the air every day, if the promised mitigation measures are actually in place. Now Eskdale and Silverdale are to follow.