Sir David Higgins
High Speed Two Ltd.,
2nd floor, Elland House,
SW1E 5 DU
30 April 2014
Dear Sir David
High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Bill (HS2 Hybrid Bill)
Following on from the successful passage of the second reading of HS2 Hybrid Bill , I write to ask that High Speed Two Ltd. ( HS2 Ltd. ) now answer the questions and suggestions made by Westminster and Brent Borough Councils and by a number of my well informed constituents as to the route and development of the new rail line as it impacts upon Westminster North .
A number of organisations and individuals have complained to me that HS2 Ltd. appear to have adopted a tactic of simply not answering questions raised by parties who believe themselves to be affected by the plans to construct the new railway. Such a tactic I believe to be counter productive (in that it creates unwarranted concerns and suspicions) and is profoundly undemocratic.
The major concerns that I share with the Councils and my constituents include :
1/ Why has there been no response to the proposal that the tunnel route as it passes through my Constituency be moved underneath the existing West Coast Main Line (WCML ) so that it avoids passing under the residential Queens Park Estate ? To date this proposal has just been ignored even though a similar section of tunnel between the Euston tunnel portal and the Adelaide Road Vent has since the publication of the draft ES been moved beneath the WCML "to reduce the effect on properties and structures which may be affected by settlement".
2/ The Councils and a number of my constituents believe that there are better locations to cite the proposed Salusbury Road Ventilation shaft and auto-transformer station which have grown to unacceptable size and prominence as the scheme has progressed. Again there appears to have been no response at all to a number of alternative and less intrusive sites. If there are substantive reasons as to why the shaft has to be located at this particular location and to this scale then it is now appropriate that the reasons be detailed.
3/ Westminster City Council is concerned that HS2 ventilation shafts need to be treated as
‘Scheduled Works' and therefore any subsequent changes to design and location be subject to further environmental impact assessments. This is of particular concern to Westminster because of their experience with Crossrail when changes to ventilation shafts were treated merely as ‘Ancillary Works' and therefore less amenable to local authority influence.
4/ I share the view that full use needs to be made of the proposed Old Oak Common interchange as the major southern terminus of the new line which will lessen the role of Euston and so avoid the wholesale demolition of Camden. I would like to see verification of the claim that Old Oak Common will actually be more accessible by public transport by the vast majority of Londoners and from most areas of London than Euston.
5/It is important to act quickly to specify the exact details of the route, the depth of tunnels and, construction methods so as to avoid ‘planning blight' in Westminster. I am pleased that the number of tunnels under my constituency has been reduced from three to two and it is my understanding that these tunnels will be at a depth of between 35 and 40 meters and bored through London clay. Therefore the Ministry and the HS2 Company are entirely confident that such construction will have no impact on properties above ground level and for this reason there are no proposals to offer any compensation to any of my constituents. It would therefore be appropriate for the DoT and for HS2 Ltd. to explicitly assure my constituents on these matters.
In responding to these points can the Ministry and HS2 Ltd. now set out a clear timetable as to when the questions that have already been submitted to them (especially Westminster City Council's submission of 27 February 2014) will actually be answered?
Please note that I am also writing today with the same concerns to the Department for Transport. Please respond in such a way as I can share your response with my constituents.
Karen Buck MP