Councils give Ruth Kelly £30bn high speed rail alternative to Heathrow runway 3.

by

Rt Hon Ruth Kelly MP, Secretary of State for Transport
photo The Guardian

(click to see original context)

The 2M Group is an alliance of local authorities concerned at the environmental impact of Heathrow expansion on their communities. The membership comprises the London Boroughs of Brent, Camden, Ealing, Greenwich, Hammersmith and Fulham, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Islington, Kensington & Chelsea, Kingston, Lambeth, Lewisham, Merton, Richmond, Southwark, Sutton and Wandsworth, and the boroughs of Slough, Windsor and Maidenhead and South Bucks District Council. The group, which took its name from the 2 million residents of the original 12 authorities, now represents a combined population of 4 million people.

In January the 2M group of councils sent 20 key questions to transport secretary Ruth Kelly who announced her backing for a new runway at the airport before the start of the Government’s consultation on the plan. The 2M Group of councils drew up the list after residents complained that the Department for Transport’s consultation document had been made deliberately complicated and one-sided.

A spokesperson said: “Many people have said they find the 238-page consultation document and the eight-page questionnaire bewildering. Yet for all the great mass of detail so much of the vital information on environmental impact and economic benefits is missing. We hope residents will find it useful to include some of the 2M questions in their own response to the minister. We are not saying these are the only questions but they do cover the main concerns people have expressed so far. The Government has made this consultation as difficult as possible – our aim is to simplify matters so that residents can test the minister on the key assumptions that lie behind her support for expansion.”

Now in the next major development of their campaign the Group are about to launch a plan for a new £30 billion high-speed rail line linking Liverpool and Manchester to Heathrow. The proposal envisages a single England-Scotland spine route and several spurs that would reach out to major cities including Liverpool and Manchester. It would run alongside the M1 and use the disused Woodhead line to Manchester, including the rail tunnel.

Edwards Lister, leader of Wandsworth Council said: “We are delighted to publish these proposals because we want a debate. We have a Government that can’t see further than the next runway. “It’s time for some imagination in UK transport planning. We don’t pretend for one minute we have all the answers but at least we’re asking the right questions.”

Richmond Council leader Serge Lourie added: “The country’s roads are grinding to a halt and all ministers want to do is put more planes in the sky and more cars on the ground. Even expanding just the existing Heathrow runways would bring another million road journeys. The real demand is for sustainable transport options that actually help people and businesses move around the country.”

If you are disturbed at the way the UK Government is trying to push through the case for the 3rd Heathrow runway why not drop a note to your MP. You find all the details you need to know here. You can use the e-mail link provided on the site, or if you would rather send a real letter, once you have the name of your MP you should address it to:

The House of Commons
House of Commons
London
SW1A 0AA

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3 Responses to “Councils give Ruth Kelly £30bn high speed rail alternative to Heathrow runway 3.”

  1. Phil Says:

    Excellent idea. In a country as small as Britain there is no need for internal flights. High speed rail is a much better idea. Lets face it, we aren’t as crowded an Island as Japan and they managed it.

  2. korschtal Says:

    Agreed: a rebuild of the Great Central Railway with a connection to Manchester via Woodhead would be a start: And don’t believe that it is ‘too hilly’ for a high speed link either. We have high speed lines like rollercoasters in Germany.

  3. Phil Says:

    The trouble is that as soon as this route is mentioned, at least a dozen people start screaming that train noise will affect the house prices local. The Daily Mail takes up the cause and then the government caves in.

    You don’t get that if you build a motorway. Then people can tie themselves to trees or dig tunnels to protect SSI’s. The Daily Mail says they are filthy “greenies” and the Government lets private security firms beat them up to remove them.

    In the UK, railways are seen as owned by the government (who we hate) whereas motorways are for the people (who we love), hence the problems getting new track laid.

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