Press release: All HS2 work must stop until review concludes
Stop HS2 campaigners react to the government announcement of a so-called independent review of HS2 by the Department for Transport.
Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2, said
“While we would welcome an independent review of HS2, having a former Chair of HS2 Ltd does not make it sound particularly independent. Right from the start government reviews of HS2 have been stuffed full of supporters of high speed rail, and have tended to come out with gushing praise for HS2. Meanwhile independent reviews have criticised HS2 for the massive costs, disruption, outdated views of travel and the environmental damage HS2 will cause.
“We are particularly concerned that the terms of reference do not include the environmental costs of HS2. It will blast through numerous sensitive wildlife sites, including over 100 ancient woodlands. These are a real cost of the project and these environmental costs be included in the review.
“We are also really disappointed that preparatory work is to continue. People’s lives and livelihoods are being overturned as well as the natural environment being wrecked as we speak by HS2 preparatory work.
“In addition, we are also concerned that HS2 Ltd are continuing to take people’s homes and businesses without paying for them, with possession orders in place at the moment, without HS2 Ltd paying people in a timely manner. Payments to people affected by HS2 through no fault of there are should be made immediately”.
Joe Rukin, Campaign Manager of Stop HS2, said
“We have serious questions as to whether a review headed by former chair of HS2 could ever be described as independent and we worry, as happened in past, that they are simply going to go away and make up some increasingly outlandish and improbable numbers for jobs, and economic benefits, to justify this white elephant.
“Any review of this project must immediately look into whether and for how long Parliament has been misled about the cost of HS2. It must take evidence from all former staff who have been gagged by the company and it must investigate the accusations made by Lord Berkeley and others in Parliament that HS2 is rampant with fraud.
“If this is to be a genuine review as to whether to go ahead or not with the project, the government must cease all works immediately, because damage to irreplaceable habitats and ancient woodland is happening as we speak. This destruction must stop now, not in a couple of weeks, not in a couple of months, not at Christmas, now.”