Hope grows for tunnel vision
Politicans’ push for HS2 to go underground through Hillingdon
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.”