Kilburn campaigners against controversial HS2 vent shaft welcome ‘Rebel Trail’ marchers
PUBLISHED: 07:49 01 July 2020 | UPDATED: 08:39 01 July 2020
An HS2 “Rebel Trail” against the construction of the billion- pound railway was welcomed by a roused crowd in South Kilburn.
More than 100 protesters – men, women and children – completed a 125-mile march on Friday along the length of the HS2 route from Birmingham to Euston. They stopped briefly in South Kilburn, where the ground has been prepared for the construction of a controversial vent shaft between St Mary’s Catholic Primary School in Canterbury Road and several housing estates. Those most severely affected include hundreds of residents living in blocks, including Carlton House, which backs on to the shaft, and Albert Road, where neighbours will bear the brunt of lorries going back and forth.
Sara Callaway, who lives in a Kilburn housing cooperative close to the proposed shaft, said: “Construction alone will cause air and noise pollution for months. Kilburn has a high population of Black and immigrant communities and refugees who are already disproportionately exposed to air pollution and the illnesses it causes, and will be hardest hit.
“HS2 is destructive, wasteful and stealing resources from the many to enrich a few. We asked the people walking the trail if they could connect with us and they agreed. We felt energised. We felt like we could stop it.”
HS2, the government body in charge of the controversial multi-billion-pound rail line that will shave 30 minutes off a journey from London to Birmingham, initially planned to put its giant ventilation shaft in a car park in Salusbury Road, Queen’s Park. But in 2015 neighbours accused Brent Council of a “stitch-up” after it objected on the grounds that Salusbury Road was a “valuable part” of its South Kilburn Regeneration Programme – and instead proposed the site next to the school.
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Two petitions received more than 600 signatures.
A major new railway station at Old Oak Common, south of Willesden Junction, is planned as part of the HS2 project.
On July 8 the Court of Appeal will hear arguments by presenter and naturalist Chris Packham against HS2.
A spokeswoman for HS2 said they regularly engage with the community” adding: “Residents near our work sites can apply to the HS2 noise insulation scheme and we have written to eligible residents in Kilburn to inform them of this.”
They added: “The vast majority of the accusations levelled at HS2 by Extinction Rebellion are inaccurate. All leading wildlife organisations agree that climate change is the biggest future threat to wildlife and habitats in the UK.
“HS2 Ltd is on track to design and build the most sustainable high-speed railway in the world, and we urge environmental groups to help us in getting people out of their cars, off planes and onto low-carbon, greener high speed rail.”
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