New Clause 40 - Exclusion of a Heathrow Spur

Part of High Speed Rail(London - West Midlands) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:15 pm on 8 March 2016.

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Photo of Andy McDonald Andy McDonald Shadow Minister (Transport) 4:15, 8 March 2016

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

We turn our gaze away from central London and look as far west as Heathrow. The new clause seeks to exclude specifically the possibility of a Heathrow spur, in order to avoid doubt and potential blight. Thus far, the Heathrow spur remains a possibility. The new clause follows on from a recommendation made in the Select Committee report on high-speed rail. Proposals had been considered for several years for the construction of a spur connecting the HS2 route to Heathrow airport, but they were eventually ruled out by the Secretary of State in March 2015, in answer to a written question.

The Airports Commission said of the proposed spur from Old Oak Common that it would have been

“likely to attract only a small number of passengers, carry a high capital cost and represent an inefficient use of HS2 capacity.”

The commission made it clear that an HS2 spur, which would have cost more than £1.4 billion, was

“highly unlikely to be necessary to support any expansion of Heathrow airport”.

I make no comment in this context as to whether that is desirable or otherwise, but it nevertheless boxes off the issue.

The Bill contains provisions that could be used to provide passive provision for a future spur from the railway to Heathrow. The Secretary of State has confirmed that a spur will not be built as part of HS2 phase 1 or 2, but it is the Select Committee’s view that there remains a risk of blight on properties on the trajectory of the previously envisaged spur. The concern is that the threat of a Heathrow spur link does not go away. The new clause would make that threat go away. The Select Committee directed the Secretary of State

“not to use the Bill powers to implement passive provision for a Heathrow spur.”

The Committee also said,

“To avoid confusion…that relevant landowners and communities are fully informed of the change” within one month of the Bill receiving Royal Assent. I trust that the wise words of the Select Committee can be recognised and reflected in the new clause.