HS2 protesters’ anger at lack of MPs support
Campaigners ‘shocked and disappointed’ over choice not to speak out at Third reading for bill
MP Nick Hurd’s prediction that HS2 would pass the third reading stage with an “overwhelming majority” came true, in a vote that took just 37 minutes.
Campaigners against the High Speed Rail Link have hit out at MPs, who voted the HS2 Phase 1 Hybrid Bill through on a 399 to 42 majority, on Wednesday, March 24.
Hillingdon MPs, Nick Hurd for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner, and Boris Johnson for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, chose to abstain from the vote.
Hillingdon Against HS2 campaigner, Lottie Jones, says many local residents are “shocked and deeply disappointed” at their choice to not speak out.
She said: “Whilst we realise that HS2 has cross party support, and knew the bill would be voted through, it is incredibly frustrating after so long fighting this project, that when it came to the crunch, local MPs were still not able to represent us.
“Nick Hurd and Boris Johnson had both stated in the past that they would not support HS2 if Hillingdon did not get satisfactory mitigation.
“We have not got anything near satisfactory solutions.”
Residents feel “very angry and let down” as abstaining came as a shock, especially as “Nick Hurd was abroad on the day of the vote”, Mrs Jones continued.
She said: “It was incredibly frustrating to watch the debate and not to see any representation from Hillingdon MPs and none of our outstanding issues raised before the vote.
“Many residents are also angry at Hillingdon’s other MP John McDonnell for what is deemed a betraying of the borough.
“Having previously voted against HS2 he had the opportunity to change Labour’s support, but it was not to be.”
Campaigners also had high hopes for Mayoral candidates and MPs Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan who both also abstained.
In a letter to residents ahead of the vote, Nick Hurd MP assured constituents that he is opposed to HS2 unless there is “a satisfactory mitigation and compensation proposal for the constituency.”
It was incredibly frustrating to watch the debate and not see any representation from Hillingdon MPs and none of our outstanding issues raised before the vote”
The Ruislip, Northwood, Pinner MP is hoping to achieve a reduction in HGV movements, a removal of soil dumps and the relocation and saving of Hillingdon Outdoor Activity Centre (HOAC).
Mr Hurd gave the background of achieving mitigations due to the strength of petitioning from residents, Hillingdon Council and MPs, as his reason for not participating in the vote.
He wrote: “My position is clear and well-known to Government.
“I do not want to prejudge or prejudice important negotiations at a critical time.
“Because of cross party support, the vote will be passed by an overwhelming majority - the effect of the vote will be to move the debate to the House of Lords and, with this, new opportunities to petition and amend the Bill.
“I will play an active role in that process if we still do not have a proposal we can live with.”
HS2 will now go to the House of Lords, with a petitioning period running from March 24 – April 18, and the second reading taking place on April 14.
Hilling don campaigners will carry on their fight at The House of Lords and will petition further.
Mrs Jones added: “We will continue to lobby for more mitigation and ultimately an extended tunnel from West Ruislip through The Colne Valley.
“Boris Johnson, Nick Hurd and Zac Goldsmith have at least committed to supporting calls for these measures but we will have to wait and see what influence they will have.”
National campaigners have compared the speed of the Bill vote to the Channel Tunnel Hybrid Bill report stage, which took over six hours in Parliament – but only three hours was allocated for both the report stage when amendments can be debated, as well as third reading itself for HS2.
This meant that many of the amendments were never discussed, but when the third reading debate actually happened, it lasted only 37 minutes, meaning many MPs did not have the chance to speak, say Stop HS2 campaigners.
Stop HS2 Chair Penny Gaines, said: “With just 37 minutes given to debate a £56bn project, that works out at over £1.5bn per minute, rushing through spending at a phenomenal rate.”