The letter - from Ickenham Residents' Association publicity officer Brian Adams - criticises Mr Hurd for a recent piece in the Town Crier, the newsletter of the Ruislip Residents' Association, in which Mr Hurd addressed traffic movements, tunnel spoil placement and other issues concerning the HS2 construction project.

Mr Adams and his association have been fighting HS2 since the beginning and doing their own research into traffic movements and noise levels, as well as poring over the hundreds of pages in the environmental impact statement in order to register their views.

In his letter in the Gazette,Mr Adams wrote:

"I have just been passed a copy of the Ruislip Residents’ Association newsletter. I can only say that I am astonished and disappointed with your article on page seven.

You seem to be claiming some success at reducing the impact of HS2 whereas HS2’s plans, as defined in the Final Environment Statement, will bring misery to the 10,000 residents of Ickenham for many years.

The HGV traffic congestion, HGV toxic emissions, construction and traffic noise pollution, permanent damage to our green belt and property blight are just some of the issues.

 Throughout [the borough], people’s ability to get to their jobs and take their children to school, for example, will be severely affected, yet reading your article it would seem there are no big issues.

It is extremely worrying that you, as our elected representative, do not appear to be aware of the basic facts. We would expect you to be scrutinising the plans to protect us from a government organisation who are clearly not fit for purpose and have no intent to protect the environment.

For example, the HS2 Phase One Environmental Statement, CFA06 Paragraph 12.4.21, clearly states that Ladygate Lane is one of the roads with major adverse effects from HGV traffic.

Paragraph 12.4.10 shows three construction sites in the Ickenham area, with the Harvil Road site being active for 10 years and the West Ruislip site for seven, and paragraph 12.4.13 suggests the construction site will be signalised on Ickenham Road and Hill Lane Ruislip.

Ickenham High Road and Ickenham Road are already highly congested, so there will be major traffic issues for residents of Ruislip.

You have been copied on the London Borough of Hillingdon’s response to the Environmental Statement; this 195-page document does a much better job than I in defining and analysing the huge number of issues that HS2’s inadequate plans create."


Mr Hurd hit responded: "Thank you for your email. It surprised me. I should clarify a few things:-

1. The article was written soon after the ES statement was published in its enormity. We had not had the opportunity to go through it with a fine tooth comb.

2. The article was high level and not focused exclusively on HS2. Where I mentioned HS2 it was to address West Ruislip residents and their understandable concern about traffic on High Street and Ladygate Lane. Even so, I make references to major disruptions elsewhere.

3. I was not claiming personal credit for anything: simply stating that in the light of protests made about the first traffic plan (from "many of us") HS2 were changing their plans.

At the time, HS2 were very clear that the new plans were in part designed to reduce HGV movements, and that is confirmed in Alison Munro's letter to me (of September 2012). Her letter was consistent with a number of verbal briefings that I received.

4. Since then we have all had the opportunity to dissect the environmental statement. As discussed, at our last meeting, HS2 have not made it easy to compare just how the new plan is better than the old plan in relation to traffic.

However the ES appears to contradict Alison Munro's original letter to me in terms of traffic on key West Ruislip roads. I have challenged her on this specific point in writing, and on the whole question of what benefit the new "soil strategy" brings to the wider area in traffic impacts. I have made my scepticism very clear, and will of course share her response with you.

5. My final view on the impacts will be set out shortly in my public response to the environment statement, and I will communicate that to constituents through any channel available - including through Town Crier if invited. I have never sought to downplay the impacts on the area and will not do so.

For the record, I am very aware of the wider impacts on my constituency - anyone who has bothered to read my previous responses to consultations and my correspondence to ministers will see that very clearly. I have consistently represented concerns about those impacts at the highest levels and continue to do so.

More than that, I am actively trying to open minds to a tunnel extension; relocation of HOAC; rethink of soil dumps and compensation for those affected by property blight. Someone has to be having these conversations with Government at this time and I believe that this is the most practical thing I can do for constituents.

As discussed, I think this will be a long process of attrition rather than quick results . Of course this will frustrate a significant number of angry constituents, including yourself, who want the thing stopped. As I have said repeatedly that is not in my power - the future of HS2 effectively depends on the Labour party right now.

While they make their mind up, I will continue to make sure that our area is on the "heat map" of HS2 and the Government and so everything I can to try and get a better deal for constituents - if it should go ahead.

I hope that I have clarified the context of the Town Crier article."

The letter Mr Hurd refers to, from HS2 Ltd chief executive Alison Munro, underlined the plans to only use Ladygate Lane for oversize vehicles that cannot fit under the Harvil Road bridge, and this had been the understanding of campaigners until the full hybrid bill was published.

The bill now seems to suggest Ladygate Lane will be used as a matter of course, although the lack of clarity, to which Mr Hurd refers, is part of the reason why he is seeking assurances from Ms Munro, as mentioned in his letter.

The 'Ladygate Lane factor' has been seen by some members of Ruislip Against HS2 as a way of shaking up people living some way from the line who, in their view, might have felt that the high speed line's route, while close, was not close enough for them to worry about.

Regular use of Ladygate Lane would add a painful 'pincer movement' of traffic on the heart of Ruislip, as reported in the Gazette of June 12 last year.

HS2 gave the Gazette a statement. “Ladygate Lane is not a planned construction traffic route.  Lorries will mainly be using Breakspear Road to get to the HS2 site there.

"It is possible that a small number may be too large to get under the bridge on Breakspear Road and would then need to take the alternative route via the High Street that was set out in the HS2 Environmental Statement and submitted to Parliament.

“In the HS2 Code of Construction Practice we will have controls on the types of vehicles that can be used and the hours that the construction site will be operational.

"We will also be working closely with the local authority and the Highways Agency to manage any increased traffic flow and minimise disruption.”