The proposal to route High Speed Two through Ruislip is causing widespread local concern. Our Association has responded vigorously to the public consultation on this contentious proposal, as have many of our members. This page will be regularly updated as the proposal progresses.
On a separate but related matter, the company HS2 Ltd have agreed to be our speaker at the RRA General Meeting on Wednesday, 20 February 2013 at the Ruislip Social Club in Grosvenor Vale. This will be an opportunity for residents to hear an update on the HS2 project and to question members of the HS2 team. Doors open at 7.30pm, and the meeting starts at 7.45pm.
At the last Community Forum meeting with HS2 Ltd. in June (see minutes here), further discussion took place about the possibility of extending the Ruislip Tunnel, so that instead of running from Northolt to West Ruislip (ending by Ruislip Golf Course) it would instead finish further west, near Harvil Road. The Forum asked HS2 Ltd. to look into the engineering practicality of extending the tunnel in this way, rather than just looking at the financial implications of doing so (which HS2 Ltd. currently say make it too uneconomic). However, during these discussions HS2 Ltd. informed everyone that there was a possibility that a junction may need to be built in the extended tunnel area, to provide spur railway lines which would lead to and from Heathrow airport. This spur junction might therefore prevent any potential extension of the Ruislip Tunnel beyond West Ruislip, as it may make it too complicated to run all the lines and spurs underground. Unfortunately there are not many details about this Heathrow Spur link yet, as the Government did not include it within the consultation for Phase 1 of HS2 (London to Birmingham) which took place last summer, and which covered the area in which any Heathrow spur junction will be situated. Instead it will be included as part of the consultation for Phase 2 (Birmingham to Leeds), which is scheduled to take place in the autumn of 2012. This means that many residents will have responded to the Phase 1 consultation back in 2011 with no knowledge that another part of the HS2 line might also affect where they live, work or play. We hope to receive more information about this spur junction from HS2 Ltd. at the next community forum, which is set for 26 September 2012, but it may be that we will need to wait for the Phase 2 consultation to start before we can see any further detail.
The RRA HS2 working group (which any member of RRA is welcome to join) met in August to discuss the above matters, and it was agreed to write to Justine Greening to say that it was both illogical and impractical for the Government to have decided to include the Heathrow Spur within the Phase 2 consultation, instead of within Phase 1. This group has also begun looking into the practicalities of the spur railway lines, and whether it might actually be possible to accommodate them within any extended Ruislip tunnel. Once we have more information about this we will let you know.
On a national level, various organisations that disagree with some (or all) aspects of the HS2 scheme have been granted a hearing by the High Court, with a view to seek various judicial reviews about how the project has been managed so far. The hearing will take place on 3 December 2012 and is expected to last for up to eight days. Although there will be only one hearing, each organisation with be able to present and argue its own case. Those taking part in the review are: HS2 Action Alliance, 51M group of local authorities (of which Hillingdon Council is a member), Aylesbury Golf Club and Heathrow Hub. A summary of the issues to be raised are: inadequate consultation; failure to provide adequate information on compensation; failure to follow European environmental and habitat regulations; failure to consider or consult on alternative routes; the detrimental impact on various areas along the proposed route; and the impact on other transport networks within the area.
In March 2012, HS2 Ltd held Community Forums in towns along the whole length of the first phase of the route - these forums were meetings involving HS2 Ltd staff and nominated representatives from interested local organisations. The aim was to discuss specific details of how the route may affect each local area and how the community would like to see any issues resolved, if possible. The whole list of community forums can be found on the Department of Transport website.
The forum for our area is called "South Ruislip to Ickenham", and can be found on the DfT website under the London Metropolitan section. Its first meeting was held on 20 March 2012. Representatives from many local organisations and action groups attended, including RRA. Items discussed included the possiblity of extending the Ruislip tunnel so that it might end at Harvil Road, instead of near Ruislip Golf Club, and how the Heathrow spur (or loop) might affect us, though the route (if any) of this is not due to be decided until after the consultation of Phase 2 of HS2, i.e. the route northwards from Birmingham.
The forums have not been set up as meetings which members of the public can attend, though it has been suggested that some public meetings should also be organised in the future. However the agenda and minutes of all forum meetings, including the South Ruislip to Ickenham Community Forum, can be found on the Department of Transport Community Forum website so that anyone can view them.
The next Community Forum date for our area is Thursday 14 June.
The decision to proceed with HS2 with extra tunnels, including one from Northolt to West Ruislip, was announced on 10 January 2012. We have not yet had time to study the changes in any great detail. We do know that there will now be a 2.75 mile (4km) tunnel for most of the route through Ruislip, which appears from studying the maps to start at Northolt, before South Ruislip Station, and to end beyond West Ruislip Station. This tunnel will be a welcome reprieve for many concerned residents and businesses in that area, though land for tunnel vents will still be needed, and there are concerns about possible vibration or subsidence if any houses are above or near the tunnel. Unfortunately it looks like the plan remains to build a rail viaduct over / through Hillingdon Outdoor Activities Centre.At the moment only Phase One, the London to Birmingham part of the route, is being planned to be built, with a spur route to Heathrow being included in the future consultation for Phase Two, where the route would continue north of Birmingham in a Y shape up to Manchester and Leeds. Phase One still has to be agreed in Parliament by way of a Hybrid Bill before the many years of construction and disruption would start. There is already talk of more petitioning, and a possible judicial review, by various opponents to the scheme. If the project does run according to the proposed government timescale then the London to Birmingham stretch of the line would be ready for passenger trains running by 2026.
Whilst the consultation period for Phase One closed last July, lobbying by groups both for and against the HS2 project continued unabated throughout the autumn and winter of 2011. In October the Transport Select Committee published their report on HS2.
Hillingdon and Ruislip Against HS2 visited number 10 Downing Street to submit their petition of over 108,000 signatures. Many other organisations also submitted petitions.A lively parliamentary debate took place on the 13th October in the House of Commons, and in November MPs Nick Hurd and John Randall accompanied four Hillingdon Children from Ruislip when they submitted their Children’s Petition to Number 10 Downing Street. During that month Justine Greening, the Secretary of State for Transport, met with MPs to discuss HS2, and there was also a Lobby Day for all interested parties including MPs, action groups and members of the public.
HS2 Ltd has stated that a consultation regarding blight will take place “during Spring 2012”. It has also said it will be consulting with community groups along the route, and will set up community forums, planning forums and an environment forum. Once we have more details about these we will let you know.
Our HS2 Working Group, which is open to any RRA member, is being asked to consider the Government’s decision in detail, so that it can advise our Executive how to move forward in response to the decision.
The written statement by Justine Greening, the Secretary of State for Transport, released on 10 January 2012, can be found here. On the Department for Transport website you will be able to find all the revised maps of the whole route, showing where the extra tunnels will be, as well as proposed new bridges and road diversions.
The decision on whether to proceed with the proposed route is now expected in early 2012 rather than December 2011, in order for Ms Greening to have further time to consider all the comments and implications. There is talk of more data being needed about the environmental impact, and of extra funding perhaps being found to provide more tunnels.