VIEW FROM THE HOUSE

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - OPINION -

CON­STITUENCY MPs need to lobby on be­half of our con­stituents be­hind the scenes as well as in the House of Com­mons cham­ber. When there is a Cab­i­net reshuf­fle, as there was this sum­mer, we need to make the case for our con­stituen­cies with the new in­cum­bents.

I’m pre­par­ing as I write for a meet­ing with the new Trans­port Sec­re­tary, which was orig­i­nally go­ing to be about HS2, but which has widened its re­mit with the an­nounce­ment about Heathrow Air­port.

A lot has been spo­ken about the need for new in­fra­struc­ture projects, but even the small­est of projects cre­ates up­heaval and dis­tur­bance. Some­thing on the scale of HS2 was al­ways go­ing to have a big im­pact on the lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment. Cou­pled with the pos­si­bil­ity that we could be look­ing at Heathrow con­struc­tion along­side the up­heaval of HS2, it is im­per­a­tive that we should be alive to the pos­si­bil­ity that dis­rup­tion could be more than “dou­ble trou­ble”, but could fac­tor up be­yond that.

Ev­ery in­fra­struc­ture pro­ject has built-in contin­gen­cies, but we have seen lo­cally that even care­ful plan­ning can be over­taken by events. By the time you read this there will have been a meet­ing in Che­sham about the sewage spillage which took place when there was a tor­ren­tial rain storm. Most projects take into ac­count ex­treme weather events tak­ing place once in a cen­tury, but there is an on­go­ing dis­cus­sion about whether these tol­er­ances should be in­creased.

Our en­vi­ron­ment needs strong pro­tec­tions be­cause one brief event can have an im­pact which lasts a long time af­ter­wards. Our com­mu­ni­ties have to be in­volved and un­for­tu­nately HS2 Ltd has missed op­por­tu­ni­ties to draw on lo­cal knowl­edge and wis­dom. There also must be a rapid re­sponse if there are any prob­lems.

That is why I think there is a strong need for an in­de­pen­dent ad­ju­di­ca­tor with the pow­ers to help lo­cal res­i­dents.

CH­ERYL GILLAN MP for Che­sham & Amer­sham

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