We will not give up fight for HS2 tunnel
Council leader furious as petition is dismissed by the select committee
PLANS for the high speed rail HS2 line through Hillingdon are like “something concocted by the Greek government”, the leader of the council claimed this week.
A furious Ray Puddifoot said he was “bitterly disappointed” after the HS2 Parliamentary Select Committee rejected the borough’s calls for a tunnel through Ickenham and the Colne Valley in place of the viaduct proposed for Harefield.
He added: “While the select committee was sympathetic to the arguments we made, there is clearly a political consensus that HS2 must go ahead no matter how poor the case for a high speed rail link is in the current economic climate.
“We stand by the evidence given by the council and local residents during petition hearings calling for a tunnel through the Colne Valley.
“I can assure you that we will continue to oppose HS2 Ltd’s shamefully inadequate proposal to build a viaduct, which has all the financial logic of a plan concocted by the Greek government and a disregard for people and the environment seldom seen in the UK.”
Cllr Puddifoot hit out after Robert Syms MP, chairman of the select committee, dismissed petitioners arguments as “not convincing”.
He said: “Our main concern is about the impact of construction work in this area. As the tunnel option carries its own set of construction issues, our overall view is that a convincing case for a tunnel instead of the viaduct has not been made.”
Doreen McIntyre of Harefield Against HS2 felt the committee had “missed the point” of petitioners’ arguments. She said: “I’ve gone in there and petitioned about permanent impacts, noise, visual and environmental destruction and losing people’s houses and then to be told we didn’t make the case about construction impacts was just bizarre.”
Jeff Creak, principal of the Hillingdon Outdoor Activity Centre (HOAC) – in the path of the railway – said the announcement left him with ‘extreme disappointment’.
He said: “It shows the lack of any value that is put on children’s education. The idea that building a train for businessmen to save 10 minutes but at the same time obliterating the opportunities for young people doesn’t sound like a good bargain to me.”
Ruislip MP Nick Hurd said he didn’t think the committee had good enough information to assess the true cost of a tunnel compared to the viaduct. He said: “HS2 numbers were dodgy and incomplete. Our petitions have not been in vain though. The Committee have accepted our argument that more needs to be done to mitigate the horrendous impact from construction on the area.”
n DISAPPOINTED: Cllr Ray Puddifoot