Hope grows for tun­nel vi­sion

Po­lit­i­cans’ push for HS2 to go un­der­ground through Hilling­don

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

RES­I­DENTS in Hilling­don fight­ing HS2 have been given a light at the end of the tun­nel, with a new ‘work­ing group’ set up for the bor­ough.

A group was set up af­ter Con­ser­va­tive Lon­don Mayor can­di­date, Zac Gold­smith met the Trans­port Sec­re­tary Pa­trick McLough­lin and key lo­cal stake­hold­ers, with the aim of en­sur­ing HS2 is tun­nelled un­der Hilling­don.

Mr Gold­smith said: “This was a pro­duc­tive dis­cus­sion. I am very pleased that the Trans­port Sec­re­tary lis­tened to our con­cerns and we can make the case for a tun­nel un­der Hilling­don.

“I will con­tinue to ap­ply max­i­mum pres­sure to en­sure that HS2 is tun­nelled un­der Hilling­don, pro­tect­ing the en­vi­ron­ment and our com­mu­nity. I want to min­imise the po­ten­tial dis­rup­tion that HS2 could cause.

The meet­ing was set up by Mr Gold­smith, who vowed to put pres­sure on the gov­ern­ment for a HS2 tun­nel ex­ten­sion, af­ter meet­ing res­i­dents and cam­paign­ers in Ruislip.

He was joined at the meet­ing by Ruislip, North­wood and Pin­ner MP, Nick Hurd, Boris Johnson MP, and Leader of Hilling­don Coun­cil, Cllr Ray Pud­di­foot, for the meet­ing at the De­part­ment for Trans­port.

Mr Gold­smith added: “I am the only can­di­date who can work with the gov­ern­ment to pro­tect Lon­don’s econ­omy and in­vest­ment in trans­port in­fra­struc­ture.

“Khan’s £1.9 bil­lion bud­get black hole would jeop­ar­dise in­vest­ment and put Hilling­don’s se­cu­rity at risk.

“My Ac­tion Plan for Greater Lon­don will de­liver for Hilling­don res­i­dents.”

Uxbridge and South Ruislip MP Mr Johnson thinks the out­come is ‘great news’ that will “now look again into the pos­si­bil­ity of the Colne Val­ley tun­nel”.

He said: “I be­lieve we can show it makes good sense in terms of both cost and ef­fi­ciency. If the tun­nel can be de­liv­ered for the same cost, it’d be crazy not to do it.

Mr McLough­lin said: “HS2 will have a trans­for­ma­tive ef­fect on the whole of the UK but it is es­sen­tial that when we build it we get it right.

“Part of this process will mean looking again where nec­es­sary.

“Zac, Nick, Boris and Ray have made a strong case on be­half of Hilling­don and I have asked for a work­ing group to be es­tab­lished be­tween Hilling­don Coun­cil, HS2 Ltd and the De­part­ment for Trans­port.

“I ex­pect this group to work through the im­por­tant is­sues raised in our meet­ing and re­port to back to me.”

The work­ing group will be made up of six peo­ple: three from Hilling­don Coun­cil, two from HS2 Ltd and one from the De­part­ment for Trans­port.

Mr Hurd is pleased that the tun­nel is ‘back on the agenda’ af­ter ar­gu­ing “for a long time that a tun­nel ex­ten­sion is the best so­lu­tion to all the prob­lems that HS2 causes in the area.”

Last month, his pre­dic­tion that HS2 would pass the third read­ing stage with an “over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity” came true, in a vote that took just 37 min­utes.

Stop HS2 cam­paign­ers felt ‘an­gry and let down’ at MPs avoid­ing the third read­ing vote when none of the three Hilling­don MPs showed up.

Cllr Pud­di­foot said that he is “grate­ful to Zac for lead­ing on this ini­tia­tive and the Sec­re­tary of State for agree­ing to look at the case for a tun­nel”.

He said: “It is with­out doubt the most cost ef­fec­tive so­lu­tion and will cause the least amount of dam­age and dis­rup­tion to our en­vi­ron­ment and our res­i­dents.”

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