THE people of Ruislip have been assured they will be given an opportunity to have their say about the high-speed rail plans, the ensuing years of disruption and the expected drop in house prices.

Ruislip and Northwood MP Nick Hurd has spoken to transport secretary Lord Adonis about his worries that residents will not be properly consulted.

The Department for Transport (DfT) says a consultation exercise will be carried out in the autumn but cannot yet give details.

Mr Hurd said: "In my experience, the terms 'public consultation' and 'sham' have become synonymous. Lord Adonis took this point and asked for some local input into how the consultation should be shaped."

In plans announced by the government last week, the Chiltern rail line through Ruislip was earmarked to form part of the High Speed Two route between London and Birmingham.

The concern is that people who live near the line could face years of falling house prices, much like those borough residents on the site of Heathrow Airport's proposed third runway.

Douglas Mills (Con), Ruislip Manor councillor and Hillingdon Council cabinet member, told the Gazette he had written to about 120 affected homes to give them reassurances.

"There is detail still to come out as to what this all means but I have been told there will be a public meeting in the summer, when all residents affected by this can find out more and ask questions," he said.

The DfT has also said it intends to set up an 'exceptional hardship scheme' for residents who can demonstrate an urgent need to move because of the impact of the high-speed rail announcements.

This will become available 'in due course'.

The announcement has also prompted further calls for the Heathrow plans to be scrapped.

Councillor Mills added: "My view is that High Speed Two is potentially a good idea, but there should be a guarantee that the third runway is abandoned and the interchange station has to be easy for people to get to.

"We need an absolute assurance that the third runway is abandoned for this to be viable - it is not an either/or."

An alliance of local authorities fighting Heathrow expansion - the 2M Group - says the government has chosen 'the most environmentally disastrous and costly route possible' and that the High Speed Two project will be 'mired in controversy for years'.