Green leader backs residents’ HS2 fight
Politician visits ‘threatened’ area surrounding Grand Union Canal
THE Green Party leader Natalie Bennett visited Uxbridge to learn more about fears the HS2 rail link between London and the north of England will ‘ruin’ a nearby nature reserve.
Ms Bennett met Green campaigners on Friday and was given a tour along the Grand Union Canal to the Colne Valley Regional Park, which some fear is under threat from the new train service.
Sarah Green, who was among the campaigners and runs river boat tours, said she fears for her river business if the plans go ahead.
Ms Bennett said: “I’m here today to see first hand the impact this disastrously damaging project could have in this specific area. The Green Party is entirely opposed to HS2. It makes no economic, environmental or social sense.”
While the HS2 route itself will not pass through the nature park, the Colne Valley is the proposed site for a 3.4km viaduct, 12 construction compounds, two worker accommodation sites, two tunnel portals and five electricity stations.
Representatives of Colne Valley Regional Park say the development will ‘dissect’ the park and three walks through the reserve will be ‘seriously affected’.
The High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Bill, which would allow for work to begin on the project, is currently being scrutinised by the House of Lords and could be in place as early as 2017.
However, earlier this year a watchdog warned the scheme could be delayed by a year. Once the law has been given Royal Assent work can start at the nature reserve in Hillingdon.
Ms Green set up her riverboat business with her partner Josephine Asher, who died from pancreatic cancer in February this year. The couple had been together for 22 years.
Ms Green said: “It’s going to ruin it. At the moment it’s a beautiful natural area. People go walking and fishing there, but it’s going to be turned into a building site.”
Ms Bennett called the plans ‘vandalism’. HS2 aims to improve rail links between London and the north travelling from Euston to Birmingham and then to Manchester and Leeds.
The proposed route passes through Northolt, South Ruislip, near Ickenham and then Harefield, but does not pass through Uxbridge itself.
‘DAMAGING PROJECT’: Natalie Bennett with Sarah Green and Hillingdon campaigners