Thursday 24 March 2016

Rebel Tulip Siddiq vows to keep fighting on HS2

The first stage of the HS2 route was approved by the House of Commons yesterday in just 37 minutes. Keir Starmer (Holborn and St Pancras) and Tulip Siddiq (Hampstead and Kilburn) rebelled against Labour's three line whip  and voted against the £56bn project.

In a message to constituents yesterday Tulip Siddiq said:
Today in Parliament, I voted against the High Speed Rail 2 (HS2) Bill that will devastate areas of Camden and Brent.

I have campaigned against HS2 for the past seven years as I believe it is an ill-thought out scheme that will lead to bedlam on our roads, disruption to the education of school children and a compromised local environment.

Further, these plans will cost taxpayers billions of pounds. I believe this money could instead be spent on projects that will actually bring real improvements to living standards across the country.

Having spoken against this Bill at the Select Committee, and again in today’s debate, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank residents who engaged with the lengthy and costly petition process. Though the Bill received support from across Parliament, it is your voice that will force HS2 to fulfil its assurances to compensate and mitigate the worst of the impacts.

My first priority as the MP for Hampstead and Kilburn is to protect residents in Camden and Brent. Therefore, I am proud to have voted against High Speed Rail 2 today in Parliament.

The scheme have now been granted permission by parliament, but I will keep fighting for mitigation for constituents.
This is what Keir Starmer had to say in the debate:

New clause 22 deals with Euston, which is in the middle of my constituency. It is not easy to convey to the House the devastating impact that HS2 will have on my constituency, but let me try. HS2 will come into Primrose Hill and crash through to Euston, destroying everything in its path.

Let me give the House the sheer numbers affecting my constituency: 2,986 people live within 60 metres of the construction site, a further 3,186 live within 120 metres, and 11,414 within 300 metres. That is 17,568 people in my constituency within 300 metres of the construction site. Some 220 family houses will be demolished, and up 1,000 people will lose their homes. Unless there is a plan for an integrated station at Euston, there is the risk that another 150 family homes will be lost, affecting another 600 people—1,600 people are at risk of losing their home.
Many of the family homes that are not destroyed will be affected by noise, and according to HS2’s own figures, 1,025 family homes—that is 4,000 people—will be affected by noise that requires mitigating measures. Measures are already in place to consider up to another 850 homes and another 3,400 people. Some 7,000 people in my constituency could need noise mitigation measures because of what will happen with HS2 at Euston.

That is not the end of it. If Euston is redeveloped, 3.5 million tonnes of spoil will need to be removed from the site, which is the equivalent of 26 miles of tunnelling for Crossrail. All that must come out of Euston, and there is no guarantee or assurance that that will be done by rail. The net effect for my constituents is the risk of 800 two-way lorry movements a day to remove that spoil, and 90% of those lorries will be HGVs.

That brings me on to air quality, which is notoriously bad in London. It is particularly bad in the Euston area, and the HS2 environmental statement indicates that HS2 will have a substantial impact on nitrogen dioxide levels in a third of locations in the Euston area. If that was not enough on its own—it will have a devastating impact on the constituency—let me throw in two further factors.

The first factor is time. The original HS2 Bill was premised on the completion of a new HS2 station at Euston by 2026. For my constituents, that seemed like a long time. In September 2015, the Government lodged “Additional Provisions 3”, their current plans for Euston. A new station is now to be developed in three phases. Stage A, to the west of the existing station, involves the construction between 2017 and 2026 of six platforms needed for phase 1. Stage B2, the construction in the second phase of further platforms within the existing station but not all of it, is intended to be completed by 2033. The redevelopment of the existing station, stage B2, is unfunded and unplanned, and may begin before or after 2033—half a station in twice the time.

Another factor—there are more I could add to this litany of devastation in Holborn and St Pancras—is that even in 2033, having endured a construction site for the best part of 20 years, my constituents will not see a complete and integrated station in their constituency. On 1 December 2015, Tim Mould QC, HS2’s counsel, outlined to the Select Committee that a new integrated station at Euston is:
“not deliverable within appropriate funding constraints” and that this is the assessment of
“the government, the Chancellor, the Prime Minister”.
There is no timetable for Government funding to complete the final phase. As a result of the lack of planning and integration, Crossrail 2, which hopes to have an integrated station, is now planning on the basis that it may have to build part of its station in Somers Town, removing 150 buildings and displacing another 600 people—half a station in twice the time, with twice the damage.

A child born next year in my constituency will grow up and leave home knowing nothing but construction work. A pensioner beginning retirement at 70 next year will live out their entire retirement knowing nothing but construction work around them. It is no wonder that at every meeting and everywhere I go in my constituency, anxiety is etched on the faces of everybody who talks to me about HS2. It is an appalling situation, one that is wholly unacceptable on any basis.

I was elected to represent the people of Holborn and St Pancras. It is my privilege to do so; it is also my duty. I speak to each and every one of my constituents when I say that I will stand with them and fight with them to resist the wholly unacceptable damage that HS2 will bring to our communities.

1 comment:

Alison Hopkins said...

Blimey. I actually agree with Tulip Siddiq. Good for her!