High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Bill

Part of Speaker’s Statement – in the House of Commons at 4:38 pm on 28th April 2014.

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Photo of Patrick McLoughlin Patrick McLoughlin The Secretary of State for Transport 4:38 pm, 28th April 2014

I understand the particular concerns that have been put to me by many Members, including my right hon. Friend Mr Lidington and my hon. Friend Jeremy Wright—they never cease to remind me of them. I certainly agree that we need to do what we can to help. Aylesbury is, after all, the largest settlement near the route between London and Birmingham, and there may be more that we can do. We will continue to talk to people in the Hawkslade part of Aylesbury, for example, and the National Trust about its idea for a land bridge near Hartwell house. I am sympathetic to the specific concerns in Wendover about any noise impact on St Mary’s church, which has become a really successful concert venue, thanks to local efforts. There are creative things that can be done along the route, such as planting tree screens to cut noise, which also makes ecological sense by creating green corridors. For places such as Fairford Leys, the line offers a chance to create new woodlands.

As I have said, I well understand that the people directly affected by the route are concerned about it. As Members have said in interventions, that is the case for all major infrastructure schemes. There is no doubt that major infrastructure schemes will inconvenience a number of people. That was certainly true when we rebuilt St Pancras and King’s Cross stations, and indeed with Crossrail, as we can see at Victoria station at the moment. Ultimately, however, we usually see a huge improvement for the general infrastructure of the nation as a result.