A YouGov poll for the Sunday Times shows that HS2 is more unpopular amongst voters than ever, with just 24% supporting the scheme (22% Phase 1, 25% Phase 2).
This comes as Sir David Higgins has tried his latest wheeze to drum up support for HS2, telling the newspaper that it would ‘save the green belt’, despite the fact in June proposal were submitted for a ‘garden city’ green belt development near the Birmingham Interchange (airport) station as a result of HS2. In 2012, HS2 Ltd chief engineer Andrew McNaughton said that HS2 station would lead to a ‘new city’ being built between Birmingham and Coventry.
The claims from Higgins also completely undermine the idea that HS2 is meant to spread growth around the country, opposed to it being a solution to create more dormitory towns for London commuters. In his interview, Higgins went for scaremongering, saying that if HS2 were to be scrapped:
“A new motorway would have to be ploughed through the Chilterns, and vast swathes of countryside in the South East England destroyed by house-building”.
However, Higgins views are not shared by the public, with only 10% of people thinking HS2 would be good for the environment. The YouGov poll shows that the only party whose supporters think HS2 is generally a good idea are the Liberal Democrats, but even that is tight with 42% being for HS2 and 38% against. Conservative supporters are a net of 17% against (32% for, 49% against), Labour 33% (24% for, 56% against) and UKIP 52% (17% for, 69% against). These figures come from averaging across two polls asked about Phase 1 and Phase 2 separately.
Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin said:
“George Osborne and David Cameron will be in Leeds today at the umpteenth relaunch of HS2 because they have got it in their heads that it is a vote winner, but the polling has shown that support for HS2 started badly and has just kept on dropping and dropping. Amongst their own supporters there is a whopping 17% gap between opposition and support, and amongst Labour supporters the difference is 33% between those against and those for this white elephant. It seems that with this closed-minded support for HS2 the main parties are just giving people another reason to vote for The Greens or UKIP, both of whom oppose HS2. In times of austerity, it is only in the minds of the Westminster elite that this vanity project is seen as a priority. Yet their latest bright idea is to propose HS3, a railway that per mile would be even more expensive than HS2, when there is an alternative which could be completed for 1.6% of the cost.”*
“In trying to make out that HS2 will save the green belt, Sir David Higgins is misleading people, scaremongering, and destroying his own argument all at the same time. Saying that without HS2 more housing will be needed in the South East is an admission that HS2 has nothing to do with helping regenerate northern and midland economies, but is all about getting more commuters into London, and that will lead to more housing developments where out of town stations are, with planning proposals already being submitted for just that.”
Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2 said,
“There are increasing numbers of people who think HS2 is a bad idea, with over half the public saying they were opposed to it. With groups ranging from the Institute of Directors to the Woodland Trust saying that HS2 is the wrong project, the Government really should be listening. Unfortunately, they seem to have stuck their fingers in their ears, so opponents of HS2 need to be even more vocal in opposing the proposed railway.”