A committee of MPs has today (Thursday) visited Hillingdon to see for themselves parts of the borough that could be destroyed if HS2 goes ahead.
The group visited sites in and around the Colne Valley in Denham before moving into areas in Harefield, Ickenham and Ruislip.
It visited The Old Orchard pub in Park Lane, Harefield, to witness the breathtaking view across the Colne Valley and was met by staff and supporters of Hillingdon Outdoor Activities Centre (HOAC) in Dews Lane, which will have to close and re-locate elsewhere if the line is built, as a 3km viaduct will effectively slice through its main lake.
Jeff Creak, principal of HOAC, said: “It was a whistle-stop tour and I think they need to come down here for half an hour and really see what will be missed, but it was good that the committee came and met us.
“If HS2 are going to do anything they have got to get on with it, we have been told that they are looking to start building here in summer 2016.
“That affects us now because we have schools and groups who want to bring kids here and we can’t tell them if we are able to accommodate them.”
Mr Creak explained that the cost to bring HOAC’s current facilities to a new site would be £10million - which doesn't include the cost of acquiring new land.
“I think it would take around two years to get it up to the standard we have here,” he said.
Majorie Fox of Peerless Drive, Harefield, said: “We need them to see HOAC today and see all that will be destroyed and why we need a tunnel under this area.
“We want them to take notice of the studies from Hillingdon Council that say a tunnel is viable and take that seriously,” she said.
The committee then went on to Ickenham, down country roads that will be gridlocked by the addition of construction traffic and past green fields that could be home to dumped spoil.
The committee’s last few stops were in Ruislip, at the point of the tunnel portal near to West Ruislip station and along a route to Ruislip High Street, which is threatened by the addition of HGV’s during the seven-year construction of the line.
The select committee were joined by local conservative MPs John Randall and Nick Hurd, campaigners from the separate Hillingdon Against HS2 groups as well as concerned residents and conservationists as they stopped at each site.
Chairman of the committee MP Robert Syms said: “It is incredibly helpful to come and look and hear from local people, to give them the opportunity to show us what impact the railway will have on their community.
“It is a beautiful area and actually coming here and seeing these sites gives us a huge insight so that when we meet petitioners at committee we know the places they are talking about instead of just looking at maps.”
Anti-HS2 signs, posters and people holding placards lined the committee’s bus route, the community pulling together to show the extent of what could be lost if HS2 is built.
Ron Ryall who lives at Dews Farm in Harefield, the former home of Victoria Cross hero Cecil John Kinross, for whom a blue plaque is positioned on the front of his farmhouse, will lose his home if the rail project goes ahead.
“The house has been here for 100 years,” he said. “Four generations of my family have lived here, it has taken me ten years to refurbish it and the next moment I am being told they will take the house and find me a similar alternative to live.
“What could possibly be similar to all of this?” he said.
Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner MP, Nick Hurd, said: “This visit is very important because this is the committee that has some power to make changes to HS2.
“What we are pushing on them is the case for extending the tunnel under the Colne Valley so that we save places like HOAC and take away the impact on the area.
“It’s much more important to come and see it for themselves and listen to how passionately people feel about saving these places.”