Statement on HS2

 

Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP

Statement on HS2

The announcement that the Department of Transport has decided to endorse the HS2 proposals has come as a great disappointment for many constituents. As has been clear from the representations I received before the announcement, those who have contacted me have in majority been against the proposal and the majority of those for reasons relating to its wider environmental impact along its whole route rather than their being adversely affected by the proposed line personally. Others have expressed concern as to whether the scheme is necessary to meet future travel needs.

The Department of Transport paper which accompanied the announcement seeks to respond to some of these concerns. Further impact mitigation to lessen the damage to the environment is proposed including further tunnelling through the Chiltern area of natural beauty. In the section that runs through or close to Denham Parish there is recognition of the specific problems that will be caused by the line crossing the Colne Valley on a raised viaduct and running through a site of special scientific interest at Broadwater lakes. Further detailed work will be carried out to find the best solutions available for noise abatement and reducing the impact on wildlife. Further measures on compensation will be considered.

Such measures and proposals, whilst welcome, will not however remove local objections to the scheme or the anxiety that the project generates. The continuing anxiety over the Heathrow Spur which will now be consulted on in 2014 adds to this problem.

When the proposal was announced in the House of Commons on the 10th January, it was clear from the response that there is widespread support for the project from a great many of my fellow MPs and across all main political parties. HS2 is seen both by them and within government as essential to our country’s long term infrastructure needs based on reasoning as to population growth and transport needs. These are of course areas of contention and dispute for others who have advanced alternative views as to what the future will hold and what transport infrastructure will best serve us in future.

The announcement marks the start and not the end of the planning process. There is now going to have to be a detailed environmental impact assessment for every mile of the route and I have little doubt that the proposals will undergo further revision and amendment during the assessment process and before any hybrid planning bill is introduced into Parliament to give authority for construction to commence.

As your MP, with constituents directly affected by the proposals, it is my responsibility to ensure that these further steps are subject to the closest scrutiny. I have raised my concerns about a number of issues with my colleague Justine Greening MP, the Secretary of State for Transport, on several occasions and will be continuing to do this in the days ahead. I have already requested and received assurances that there will be detailed consultation between the Department and Denham parish and residents as the process continues and I intend to do what I can to ensure that all relevant issues are properly considered. I am available to meet constituents who want to discuss the matter with me personally both in relation to the details of the scheme and to the principle of it. The protection of the natural environment has always been a priority for me and I have tried and will continue to try to do this so far is possible, in my work as a local MP.

 

Dominic Grieve QC MP