PressRelease:HS2 Phase 2 farce – no Heathrow link
Today the government has announced Phase 2 of HS2 – an extension to Leeds and Manchester with other stops at some bizarre places, and with news many were not expecting – no Heathrow Link! This appears to be an attempt to give some credibility to The Davies Commission on airport expansion, which isn’t due to report until 2015.
Although this announcement is cautiously welcomed by our local communities who are already suffering blight due to the proposed Heathrow link, this leaves many questions unanswered.
· Will local areas still be safeguarded and eligible for compensation?
· Can construction of Phase 1 now include more, and better, mitigation options in the hope that no spur will ever be built?
· Or will Phase 1 continue to be built as proposed in order to keep options open – causing uncertainty, blight, and suffering to residents and businesses whilst leaving them ineligible for compensation?
· Will HS2 Ltd even bother to tell these people their plans have changed?
In many ways this news is no surprise to us. Only last October at a community forum a HS2 Ltd engineer told us:
“…the link to Heathrow might never happen. Connecting HS2 to Old Oak Common will allow passengers to reach Heathrow in 11 minutes. That was our original proposal”
Will people who support HS2 in the mistaken belief that HS2 will reduce domestic flights now realise HS2 is not about that. Nor is it about the environment, reducing carbon or true connectivity. Maybe it’s about airport expansion after all.
As for the Heathrow Link and for our community, it is still not certain if this is a permanent reprieve or a temporary one till 2015.
Another major point of interest for Londoners today is the route through the city of Manchester is almost all in tunnel – meanwhile many Londoners still face HS2 ploughing through their gardens, schools, closing roads and so on, time for a fair deal for all!