Green leader backs res­i­dents’ HS2 fight

Politi­cian visits ‘threat­ened’ area sur­round­ing Grand Union Canal

Harefield Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - By Alexan­der Ballinger alexan­der.ballinger@trin­i­tymir­

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

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