I am opposed to HS2 unless we get a satisfactory mitigation and compensation proposal for the constituency. That has been my public position for years, and is well understood by the Government.
For some time now I have been campaigning with Resident groups and Hillingdon Council for a better outcome. Through our collective tenacity we have forced HS2 to rethink their plans time and time again. However, I have been the first to say that we do not yet have an acceptable solution which we can rely on.
We are now at a critical stage. Following agreements with London Borough of Hillingdon and TfL, work is in progress to try and achieve some important goals. A 2/3 reduction in HGV movements on key roads and junctions. The removal of the most emotive soil dumps. The relocation and saving of HOAC. The moving of a power station further away from South Harefield. In May we should have sight of substantial proposals from HS2 on the key traffic and soil issues which will have been worked through with LBH and TfL. All this work should have been done a long time ago by HS2, and is only happening because of the strength of our petitioning.
Against this background, I will not participate in the Third Reading vote. My position is clear and well-known to Government. I do not want to pre-judge or prejudice important negotiations at a critical time. Because of cross party support, the vote will be passed by an overwhelming majority. The effect of the vote will be to move the debate to the House of Lords and, with this, new opportunities to petition and amend the Bill. I will play an active role in that process if we still do not have a proposal we can live with.
In parallel I will continue to do whatever I can to secure a better deal. I have requested a meeting with the Secretary of State to discuss with him directly the way forward for Hillingdon. In my letter to him I have made it clear that we must revisit the case for the tunnel extension, which is the simplest solution to all the local problems.
I am well aware that many constituents are opposed to HS2 full stop and want me to share that view. I have always been clear that I am not opposed to the principle of what the Government is seeking to achieve. My priority is to minimise the impact on my constituents. HS2 remains a long game and my final judgment will depend on the final proposal.
I will of course keep constituents updated on our progress.