HS2 spur road snub boosts bid for tunnel
MP encouraged by decision to throw out plans on grounds of unfair blight
THE decision to rule out a spur linking HS2 to Heathrow Airport ‘strengthens the case’ for a tunnel under Ickenham.
That is according to Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner Conservative MP Nick Hurd, who this week welcomed the announcement by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin that the spur would not feature in either phase one or two of the HS2 scheme.
Mr Hurd told the Gazette: “Our argument was simple. If HS2 goes ahead, the best way of connecting passengers to Heathrow is through Old Oak Common. The spur was not needed and was causing unfair blight. I am delighted that ministers have listened and effectively the spur is dead.
“Blight is removed and our strong case for a tunnel extension to protect Ickenham, Harefield and the beautiful Colne Valley from HS2 just got stronger.”
HS2 is a planned high-speed rail network linking London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. The proposed spur would have connected the rail line with Ickenham at a cost of £2bn.
However, residents have sounded a note of caution.
Ickenham Residents’ Association committee member Humphrey Tizard said: “What they have said is it’s not in phase one or two, but they haven’t said it’s been withdrawn completely.”
Lottie Jones, of Hillingdon Against HS2, said: “Unless that wording is taken out of the Hybrid Bill, his [ Mr McLoughlin’s] statement means very little. Another transport secretary could come in, a different government could come in and change their mind.
“We can’t possibly trust HS2 Ltd in what they say unless it’s set in stone, because they have been known to mislead.
“I think for a lot of people in Hillingdon this is a cause for celebration because it is a victory, but we’re very cautious.”
Hillingdon Council leader Ray Puddifoot said the government’s statement showed there had ‘never been a business case for the Heathrow spurs’ and might suggest that a third runway at Heathrow will not happen.
He added: “We would like to thank our MPs, Nick Hurd and Sir John Randall, along with Beaconsfield MP Dominic Grieve, for all their support and hard work to solicit this admission from Patrick McLoughlin. However, we do not believe that the Secretary of State’s statement will remove the blight in the area.
“Unfortunately, phase one of HS2 still includes the junctions needed for any future connection to Heathrow and it is noticeable that Patrick McLoughlin has made no reference to these.”
Anti-HS2 petitioners from Hillingdon addressed the government’s High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Bill Select Committee in the House of Commons on Monday.
Among them was Doreen McIntyre, chairman of Harefield Against HS2, who outlined residents’ grievances and changes they wanted to see made.