Councillor claims HS2 could be terror threat

Wednesday 23 January 2013 Updated: 24/01 14:37

A COUNCILLOR has claimed HS2 plans for a deep tunnel near Coventry could pose a serious security threat.

Coun David Skinner believes the train line under Burton Green, to the west of the city, could be targeted by vandals or even terrorists.

And he compared the costly scheme to the recent hostage crisis in Algeria, when dozens died in a terrorist attack.

“The installations in Algeria are legal, highly technical, important and for human benefit. But they have been very seriously attacked, with appalling results,” Coun Skinner, who represents Westwood ward, said.

“HS2 would be legal, highly technical, important and for human benefit. But the route includes, for example, deep tunnels, including in Burton Green, near my ward.

“I remember 7/7 and the Madrid train bombing, to say nothing of attacks in so many parts of the world.”

Coun Skinner, a former foreign officer who has worked in embassies around the world, said he had raised the issue with HS2 chiefs but was unsure whether they had taken it seriously.

A HS2 spokesman insisted the controversial line between Birmingham and London would be built to the highest standards, including security standards.

Dr Andrew Gibbs, chairman of Burton Green HS2 Action Group writes:

"I would like to make some comments regarding this article.

"This appears to be a conflation of two unrelated things: that HS2 would be a security risk (it is) and that any sort of tunnel in Burton Green makes that worse (utter nonsense).

"Regarding the security risk in general then you only need to look at what a man in a Land Rover can achieve by accident (Selby rail crash) and note that was with a train travelling at less than 100mph.

"HS2 will be travelling at over 200mph, and there will be another train a few minutes behind and many more coming the other way to ensure a proper disaster.

"One could argue that tunnels in fact make things safer as they are less accessible, but in any case there are others already in the plans without implying this is the fault of the citizens of Burton Green who simply wish to avoid the destruction of our village.

"On the more general comments in the article, while I greatly respect Coun Skinner's experience and knowledge of security matters the rest of his stance is not wholly in tune with the reality of HS2.

"There is no lofty ‘human benefit’ except to those who can afford to use it and to the construction companies who stand to build it; it is not ‘important’ as it fails to meet any of its purported benefits (north south divide, job creation, profitability, environmental); and lastly it

is not even certain that it is legal – we await the ruling on Judicial Reviews on that very subject."

Earlsdon councillor Allan Andrews writes:

"My colleague, Coun Skinner, for whom I have the greatest respect, likens the recent tragedy in Algeria to the possible threat posed to HS2.

"Whilst I appreciate and fully respect Coun Skinner's professional background, serving in some of the world's most dangerous countries, I fear that his scaremongering about HS2 is detracting from the real concerns many people have about the project.

"The city council has a tall building, Civic Centre 4. Should we demolish it because a plane might, just might, fly into its 13th floor? Should we ground all planes because one might, just might, be hijacked?

"If we decided every project based on the potential for it to be attacked, very little would be achieved. It would be giving in, surrendering, to those who seek to cause us harm.

"Sadly, there are any number of potential targets for terrorist attacks surrounding us each day.

"The existing rail network presents many such opportunities should a determined terrorist wish to cause maximum damage. 7/7 should serve as a constant reminder to the threats we face.

"The debate about HS2 should remain focused on the real concerns people have and not succumb to hypothetical scaremongering."

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