HS2 Update – Finchley Road Lorries and House of Lords Committee

September 15, 2016 at 4:48 pm / by

House of Lords HS2 committee

As the High Speed Rail 2 Bill bulldozes its way through Parliament’s committees, my determination to prevent the chaos it will bring to our area remains undiminished. Though residents and representatives have secured significant concessions, HS2’s impact on Camden and Brent remains unacceptable and profound. The national picture is as troubling, with the estimated costs of the project now at a staggering 80 billion pounds and rising.

Though it remains my view that HS2 should be abandoned in its entirety, the political will for this outcome is unfortunately lacking beyond London. I am therefore maintaining efforts that mitigate HS2’s disruption and displacement to the best of my ability. At present, my attention is focussed on two specific complaints.

The first is the fight to secure fair compensation and redress for residents being impacted by construction.

Whether it is the location of vent shafts or proximity to the development of the line itself, a significant number of people are not being recompensed for the upheaval they face. Nobody should have to accept structural damage to their homes, or the prospect of a decade of extreme noise pollution, without proper recourse.

I made this argument throughout my speech at the HS2 House of Lords Select Committee, which can be watched below in full and read on page 70 of the transcript.

The second issue centres on the shortlisted locations for Lorry Holding Areas (LHAs).

LHAs facilitate the management of heavy vehicles travelling to construction sites, aiming to reduce their impact upon existing highway networks. This is a laudable aim. However, as is so often the case with HS2 Ltd., they have given insufficient consideration for the reality of day-to-day life in our area, before publishing their proposals.

By shortlisting the O2 Centre on Finchley Road as a depot for potentially hundreds of lorries, they disregard any obvious impacts on businesses within the centre, and the families that frequently visit one of the most important retail hubs in North West London.

Whilst HS2’s report does acknowledge that the LHA “would result in the loss of a number of existing spaces designated for private users at the O2 Centre”, a subsequent letter to my office does not bother to address the ramifications.

HS2 have at least accepted that they will require “the agreement of the relevant stakeholders” in order to implement this option. They also state that they “will engage with the local community about the location of the LHA once detailed design has progressed”. I would argue that they should begin that process presently, rather than trigger another episode in which residents are frustrated by a disregard for daily life in our area.

I will be meeting with local stakeholders in the coming weeks to discuss these concerns. Residents can be assured that I will keep up the pressure on HS2 for as long as their proposals promise severe disruption to life in Hampstead and Kilburn.