We will not give up fight for HS2 tun­nel

Coun­cil leader fu­ri­ous as pe­ti­tion is dis­missed by the se­lect com­mit­tee

Harefield Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - By Kather­ine Cle­men­tine kather­ine.cle­men­tine@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

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

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