§ Sir Keith Speed
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement about the choice of a route for the channel tunnel rail link at Ashford.
§ Mr. Jacques Arnold
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the route of the channel tunnel rail link at Pepper Hill, Northfleet, in Kent.
§ Mr. Macgregor
I have today announced my decisions on the route of the new channel tunnel rail link through Ashford and at Pepper Hill.
In January I announced a route for the new channel tunnel rail link that would be safeguarded, but that further study and consultation had been requested by the local authorities and Members of Parliament on route options at Ashford and Pepper Hill. Union Railways compared three options at each location, consulted on them and reported to me at the end of March. In deciding on the route at each location that will be safeguarded, I have also taken account of all the representations that have been received. Copies of the Union Railways' reports will be placed in the Library of the House.
The extra consultation has fully justified that decision. I am now able to announce that at Pepper Hill I have decided that the chosen route will be the one around the housing estate, in cut and cover under the A2. It is technically feasible, environmentally acceptable, does not cost more and has wide public support locally, including from my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesham (Mr. Arnold).
At Ashford I have decided that the central route is the best solution. It is environmentally acceptable and has the best financial return. I have also taken particular account of the perception of my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford, local authorities and business representatives, in Kent and Sussex, that the economic development of Ashford and east Kent will be enhanced by ensuring that the route serves Ashford international passenger station as directly as possible. The central route affects some housing and commercial premises, but it will be optimised in the next few weeks before it is safeguarded so as to minimise the impacts as far as possible.
§ Mr. Simon Hughes
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what representations he has received from those affected by the decision not to tunnel the channel tunnel rail link through parts of East London; and if he will make a statement;
(2) on how many occasions he has visited sites and met representatives of local residents and businesses affected by the decision not to tunnel the channel tunnel rail link under parts of east London; and if he will make a statement.266W
§ Mr. Freeman
Before the January announcement of the final route of the new rail link both my right hon. Friend and I visited those areas affected by the proposed surface route through east London. Since the January announcement my right hon. Friend and I have received a number of representations from those affected by the surface route, and met representatives from the London borough of Barking and Dagenham.
§ Mr. Simon Hughes
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to meet local residents and businesses affected by the decision not to tunnel the channel tunnel rail link under parts of east London; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Freeman
Extensive consultations on the route of the new rail link have been carried out by Union Railways for the Government. My right hon. Friend and I have no present plans for separate meetings with local residents and businesses. However, those who are directly affected by the route of the rail link will have every opportunity to make their case to the Select Committee that will consider the hybrid Bill for the rail link when it is introduced.