I’ve been fighting to stop HS2 since it was first announced in 2009. I grew two miles from its tracks, and have seen the heart torn out of countless communities by its bulldozers.
First and foremost of those communities is right here in Camden. Large parts of Euston and Regents Park have been bulldozed. Works further up the track have hurt Primrose Hill, Belsize, and Kilburn. And yet despite the decimation, the Camden Conservatives are almost alone in continuing to argue in our borough for the scheme to be scrapped.
I have written to the government on a number of technical details to ameliorate the harm. I’ve asked questions in council and in Planning Committee to try to reduce the harm to residents. But nothing – no mitigation and no compensation – can match the benefit of just scrapping the damn thing altogether.
That’s why I have lobbied incessantly against it altogether: speaking to ministers and officials regularly, speaking at conferences and events, and tweeting about it non-stop. And that lobbying – by myself; by Conservative colleagues in Hillingdon, Buckinghamshire, Warwickshire, Staffordshire, and elsewhere; and by the brilliant Stop HS2 group – has secured a review of whether to go ahead with the project altogether.
I am hugely grateful to the Government for holding that review: without a single word of pressure from Labour or the Lib Dems, and entirely because of internal pressure within the Conservatives making the economically-unviable costs and socially-unviable harms to communities politically unviable too.
If anyone is to be taken seriously for fighting HS2, they have to fight now not just for mitigation or compensation, but for it to be scrapped and for the savings to be put into suburban and intra-regional rail transport and restoring the communities – like in Camden.