Since 2012, I have been campaigning with residents for a tunnel extension, because I believe that is the fairest solution. It will take away most of the problems. Local MPs, Hillingdon Council and Resident Associations are united in petitioning for a tunnel extension to the other side of the Colne Valley. Given resistance from HS2, our best hope is to persuade the Special Committee of independent MPs that has been set up to listen to community petitions. They have real power to direct change, and so it is really important that they understand our position. I was pleased that they accepted my invitation to visit the area on 21st January, and thank you to the many residents who took the time to come out and talk to them about numerous problems.
Hillingdon Council have helped our cause by commissioning an independent report that reaches two very clear conclusions. The tunnel extension is feasible. It can also be done for more or less the same cost. HS2 will now have to explain to the Committee why they disagree with this argument and be open to challenge from us. The first residents from the area have petitioned this week and, with a break for the Election, the hearings for our area should be concluded by the end of the summer. I am pleased to report some other good news that should help our cause. One of the factors that complicated our case for a tunnel extension was the plan to link HS2 to Heathrow by the so called Heathrow Spur. For some time now, I have been working with Sir John Randall MP and the Rt. Hon Dominic Grieve MP to persuade the Government to drop the idea of the Heathrow Spur. Our argument is that the best way of connecting HS2 passengers to Heathrow is through Old Oak Common. I am delighted that last week, the Government accepted our argument and announced that they have no plans to build the Heathrow Spur in either Phase One or Two or HS2. I believe that this will strengthen our case for the tunnel extension that we need to protect the area.
The campaign for the tunnel extension is my priority.
Timeline of campaign for a tunnel extension
- July 2012 – I first wrote to Justine Greening MP (the then Secretary of State of Transport) on behalf of Ickenham Residents Association requesting an extension of the tunnel.
- March 2013 – Joint later to the Rt. Hon Patrick McLoughlin MP, Secretary of State for Transport with Sir John Randall and the Rt. Hon Dominic Grieve asking that the mitigation option of extending a tunnel under the Colne valley is given serious consideration.
- June 2013 – Meeting with Alison Munro, Chief Executive of HS2 where we discussed the option to extend the tunnel.
- October 2013 – Letter to Robert Goodwill MP, congratulating him on his new appointment as Minister for Rail and setting out the HS2 issues in the area, plus calling for a tunnel extension.
- July 2013 – Response to HS2 draft Environmental statement calling for the dropping of “Heathrow Spur” which has been cited as a reason for not extending the tunnel beyond Ickenham.”
- January 2014 – Meeting with Robert Goodwill MP, Minister for Rail, to discuss HS2 issues including extending the tunnel under the Colne Valley.
- February 2014 – Response to Environmental Statement calling for a tunnel extension either short or long and the dropping of Heathrow Spur.
- February 2014 – Joint letter with Sir John Randall, Rt. Hon Dominic Grieve and David Liddington MP to Sir David Higgins, Chairman of HS2 requesting Heathrow Spur is dropped.
- May 2014 – Petition against the HS2 Bill submitted requesting a tunnel under the Colne Valley and if that is not possible then as a “minimum it is extended to beyond Breakspear Road South.”
- May 2014 – Meeting with Sir David Higgins, Chairman of HS2 where tunnel extension is discussed.
- July 2014 - Joint letter with Rt. Hon Dominic Grieve MP and Sir John Randall to Rt. Hon Patrick McLoughlin MP, Secretary of State for Transport, calling for the Government to drop proposals for a Heathrow Spur and requesting a meeting.
- October 2014 – Joint meeting with Dominic Grieve and Sir John Randall with Patrick McLoughlin, Secretary of State for Transport to discuss the dropping of the Heathrow Spur and tunnel extension.
- December 2014 – Letter to Sir David Higgins requesting more information on the assessment that HS2 had commissioned on extending a tunnel.
- Feb 2015 – Letter to the Chair of HS2, Sir David Higgins, challenging them to respond directly to the recent LBH commissioned report. LBH’s independent report argued that a tunnel extension was a) feasible and b) could deliver a lot of benefits at no additional cost.