Boris blasts HS2 bosses over Ickenham tunnel spoil

Boris blasts HS2 bosses over Ickenham tunnel spoil Photos by Dave Peters

Boris Johnson has blasted HS2 bosses for failing to come up with 'credible' plans to deal with the spoil from the tunnel at Ickenham and claims they have created a “great deal of confusion”.

Mr Johnson, MP for neighbouring Uxbridge and South Ruislip, has “grave concerns” about the £50bn rail project - including the disruption to the area.

Mr Johnson told Hillingdon is Here: “There is still not a really credible traffic management plan for the spoil coming out of the tunnel at Ickenham and where it goes and how that is to be managed.

“So, we are insisting that HS2 work with us to come up with a plan on how to manage the spoil and to have routes for the spoil from the tunnel which will cause minimal disruption for residents.

“That was a point that I’ve agreed to take up with HS2 particularly and that is something that I’ve initiated as a concern with both Transport For London and the Department for Transport.”

He claimed uncertainties still surrounded the Ickenham rail head - a temporary depot at the end of a rail road at which supplies can be unloaded and spoil removed during the construction of a railway.

Boris gesturing

He said: “There is a great deal of confusion and it was wholly unsatisfactory that during the hearings in the House of Commons, the HS2 officials and the HS2 lawyers, were completely vague about how deep the tunnel was going to be under South Ruislip. First they said it was going to be 30 metres and then it was reduced to 15 metres, so that didn’t exactly inject confidence.”

The London Mayor also criticised HS2 Ltd’s communication and its failure to deal with residents complaints, citing an ombudsman’s report.

He said: “HS2 has a big problem with trust in this part of London and I’m obviously going to work hard to make sure that they address that. They’ve got to focus on that and focus on their relationships.”

Simon Kirby, HS2 Ltd chief executive, said: “HS2 Ltd takes the Ombudsman’s report extremely seriously and offers a full apology to the residents for distress caused. We will fully comply with the report’s recommendations and make the payments to the residents concerned.”

Richard Pain, HS2 Ltd spokesman, said: “Following a request from the Select Committee to look at ways to reduce construction impacts in the Ickenham and West Ruislip area, we are proposing a number of changes to the plans.

“Notably, a new haul road and introduction of traffic lights at Swakeleys roundabout will cut the number of HGVs on Swakeleys Road between Swakeleys roundabout and the intersection with Harvil Road by almost two-thirds.

"Full consideration was given to using the West Ruislip depot as a single railhead but this would create more traffic as well as a longer construction period and greater costs. There was a broad agreement it was not a feasible solution.”

Mr Pain said: “The depth of the tunnel varies throughout Ruislip. Generally it is between 15m and 20m below ground level depending on its location and how close it is to a railway embankment. Where clarification was required, we have written to residents to confirm the depth of the tunnel.”
Hillingdon is Here asked HS2 Ltd about Mr Johnson's accusation that it has failed to command trust and also if it cares about residents' views.

Mr Pain responded: “We recognise that communities will be affected by the construction of the new railway and are committed to ongoing, open and transparent communication with those concerned.

“We make every effort to make information available as soon as possible. A comprehensive programme of engagement is planned for 2016.”

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