VIEW FROM THE HOUSE
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