So many reasons to oppose HS2

This appeared on the Gazette website on 28th Feb 2011:

SO WHAT is the HS2 issue for residents of Ruislip and Ickenham?

Firstly, a huge Eurostar-style train will be hurtling through our lovely towns, non-stop, starting from Euston and going to Birmingham – not benefitting us or our area and actually having a negative effect on homes, HOAC (Hillingdon Outdoor Activities Centre), schools, parks, commuters and traffic.

It could have potentially dangerous levels of noise and vibrations for residents. We are talking here levels of noise that can be linked to increased cardiac arrests and mental illness.

But why? The point of HS2, is according to the government, apparently in the ‘national interest’.

Should we trust the government to tell us what is in the national interest? For ages their pro-HS2 argument was economic growth. Funnily enough various independent research has argued there is no economic case for HS2, so suddenly we are told it is in the national interest. This time last year the Third Runway at Heathrow was in the national interest, until the government changed and made a totally different decision.

Anyway what is in the national interest? Getting to Birmingham a little bit quicker, but having to go all the way to Euston first? Ruining villages, towns and Areas of Outstanding Beauty? Not improving local travel links to local jobs? Not investing in technology to increase home working and video -conferencing?

There are so many other ways to spent the projected £33billion in the national interest, particularly at this time of recession and cuts. An elite few in the construction industry will be bank rolled by the taxpayer over the next 25 years with so much money they must be laughing!!

To themselves and at us. If our antipathy means there is no real public reaction to this project we will only have ourselves to blame. There are plenty of other ways the construction industry can grow and thrive, such as building the housing, schools and hospitals.

Should we trust the government on this at all when they have not contacted directly one single person or property that is going to have HS2 ploughing through it?

Many people found out from neighbours or friends who had stumbled across a news story in a newspaper. How can we trust that they will honestly consult with us in the forthcoming public consultation when they have not actively informed and engaged with those who it could be argued have a right to be involved, if not just as a basic human right, but as a moral right.

It is particularly hard as a Ruislip resident to trust them to do the right thing when they have stated they plan to reduce the width of HS2 through our area, meaning people will be expected to live much closer to the line than anywhere else along it. In the Chilterns they will have a 25 metre dead zone either side where no plants can grow.

Here, houses will be within that 25 metres – this is a really serious issue that no one seems to be getting active about, even our own MPs seems to have chosen to shrug their shoulders about it. It is us the residents, who will suffer, with lower house prices, a much less pleasant place to live than we started with, health risks and worse of all, if HS1 is anything to go by, a train line that has caused so much devastation and has hardly any trains an hour using it and has to be sold off at a loss years later.

The public consultation starts today (Monday, February 28). Visit the website for information, and while you are online have a look at too.

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