‘It’s going to finish me off’: Residents say they have to wear masks inside their homes because of pollution caused by HS2 work

Work on HS2 is set to continue for the next decade. Photograph: Jim Osley / CC BY-SA 2.0

Pollution caused by work on HS2 near Euston station was so bad that nearby residents say they had to wear masks at home – with others needing medical treatment because of the dust.

Construction of the multimillion-pound high speed rail link is so close to the Regent’s Park Estate that some families have found life unbearable.

HS2 and the Department of Transport have just agreed a £29.2m deal with Camden Council to compensate affected residents and allow them to be moved away.

It follows years of campaigning by residents and the Town Hall, which had to lobby Parliament because HS2 was approved there.

In shocking testimony, one parent said: “My bedroom is next to the HS2 work and it gives me and my family a lot of problems.

“Sleeping is very difficult. There is noise all day. All the windows are closed all day. When they drill, my bed shakes. My blood pressure has gone up.

“My older son has suddenly started getting skin problems and the doctor said it is caused by pollution and dust. We always have to wear masks.”

Another child on the estate, who suffers from a dust allergy, had a lump removed from his throat. His parent said: “The hospital consultant said all his problems were due to pollution and dust.”

One resident told the council: “I can put up with a lot, but the noise and fumes are about to engulf us – it is going to finish me off.  It’s the first time in my life that I feel vulnerable.”

He added: “I already feel breathless and I feel like I’m approaching the end.”

Camden’s cabinet rubber-stamped the compensation deal but said they were frustrated HS2 had taken so long.

David Burns, the council’s director of economy, regeneration and investment, said homes in Cartmel, Langdale and Coniston blocks were “virtually uninhabitable”.

The package will compensate residents who have already moved as well as those yet to leave their homes, and it will enable leaseholders to sell their homes to the council.

The Town Hall will look at the long-term future of the blocks after the work finishes in 10 years.

Burns said: “The conditions that people are living in, we would not want to put people back in that position.”

He said piling work that starts in July will be very close to the blocks.

“We’re talking metres from people’s properties. If you are in there now, you can feel the vibrations, the noise.”

Camden’s cabinet member for new homes, jobs and investment, Danny Beales, said the deal comes after an 18-month campaign and “it has been fraught at times, with very difficult discussions”.

He added: “It’s a positive deal, it’s a fair deal, but it’s taken far too long to get to this position.”

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