Yesterday there was a debate in Parliament on HS2, one of the last debates in Parliament. John Randall, Dominic Grieve and I took the opportunity to argue that we needed more evidence and less assertion in the case for HS2 and that we need a serious response from HS2 to the proposed tunnel extension. We also got the chance to criticise the current compensation package which ignores property blight and takes no account of construction.
We welcomed the Minister’s confirmation during the debate that the Heathrow spur is dead and it is not needed which the Minister, Robert Goodwill MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Department of Transport, also confirmed this to us after the debate.
We are now in the critical phase. I do not know if HS2 will go ahead but my priority is to protect the area. I have never voted for HS2 and I have made it clear that I will vote against it at the next stage – if we do not get the protection we are petitioning for. I therefore welcomed the opportunity to debate this important issue one last time in Parliament before the General Election is called.
Please also see below the relevant extracts from the debate:
Nick’s intervention during Cheryl Gillan’s speech on compensation and the need to sell scheme;
Cheryll Gillan (Amersham) …It was only this year, after five years, that the compensation for my constituents and “the need to sell” scheme were finally settled. People are still battling with complex bureaucracy, form-filling and unacceptable questioning. I have the distinct impression that lifestyle judgments are being made about people who apply for compensation. It should be none of the Department’s business what lifestyle anyone chooses to pursue. The decision should not really depend on what other assets they have, because it is the asset in question—usually their home—that is affected. The Department should accept the need to sell without making onerous demands for personal details.
Mr Nick Hurd (Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner) (Con): I wholly endorse what my right hon. Friend is saying about the “need to sell” scheme. Do her constituents feel the frustration that is felt deeply in Ickenham and Harefield about the fact that the current compensation proposals take no account of blight associated with construction? When we are dealing with huge construction sites that will be in operation 24/7 for up to 10 years, that is a very real problem.
Mrs Gillan: I agree entirely. I have been talking for too long. I was hoping to finish earlier than this, but I have been generous in giving way, so I have not been able to cover all the points that I hope others will cover. When I did the fly-through, which is a bird’s-eye view of the whole line of the route, it showed clearly what would happen after the line had been built, but it failed to take into account what would happen in the wider swathe of agony that would be cut through our countryside. That has to be explored in far more detail.
And The Government’s assurances the Heathrow Spur has been dropped:
Mr Grieve (Beaconsfield): I am very grateful that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport announced that the Heathrow spur would effectively not go ahead. That removes a great deal of potential blight from my constituency and it is quite clear that it was not needed. However, parts of the bits of the junctions and other infrastructure still remain in the Bill, which worries me about the potential for blight. I hope that the Minister will reassure me that the necessary steps will be taken to ensure that such potential for blight is removed from the Bill.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Robert Goodwill): I give my right hon. and learned Friend that reassurance now.
Mr Grieve: I am very grateful to my hon. Friend. That will be well received in my constituency.