Following an oral evidence session to the Oakervee Review into HS2 last week, the Stop HS2 campaign can now publish the subsequent written evidence which was provided to the review. Key points can be found below, the full evidence can be found via this link
Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin said:
“Doug Oakervee shouldn’t be the one investigating HS2, the Serious Fraud Office should be investigating HS2, and we believe they are because HS2 has consistently failed the three tests of the 2006 Fraud Act on a cyclical basis for years. Quite simply, HS2 Ltd is a rogue organisation with a complete unfamiliarity with the truth because the whole thing has been lobbied for by those with a vested financial interest in seeing it built. HS2 Ltd has a far too close relationship with suppliers, the projected benefits and costs have no basis in reality, the public and parliament have been deliberately misled for a decade and if HS2 continues it will become the scandal that keeps on giving for years to come.”
Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2, said
“When Boris Johnson became Prime Minister, we wrote to him asking that he hold an impartial review into HS2. We continue to be disappointed that the Doug Oakervee, a former Chair of HS2 Ltd, was chosen to chair the review, and that environmentally damaging enabling works have continued during the review. However we are hopeful that sense will prevail and that HS2 will be seen for the monumental waste of money it is and that it will be cancelled as soon as possible.”
“What is clear from the revelations over the summer is that the cost of building HS2 is unknown and the timescale for building HS2 is unknown, even by HS2 Ltd themselves. Their best guesses at the moment seem to be over £80 billion and decades to build. Meanwhile proponents of HS2 throw round ever larger numbers of supposed benefits in the hope that this project will be saved from the scrap heap where it belongs. It is time to cancel HS2 and look at the real 21st century transport needs of this country.”
Penny Gaines added
“There are numerous individuals and businesses which have already had their property taken over by HS2 Ltd without being paid for them. Whatever happens with HS2 itself, it is imperative that these people get paid for their homes and their property which HS2 has taken. This is a serious issue which, if not resolved swiftly, will have a knock-on effect on numerous other Government schemes for years to come.”
Besides calling for the entire project to be cancelled and work halted immediately, key points made in the submission are:
• The project was only ever adopted due to ‘entryism’, which presented mythical costs, passenger forecasts and benefits which had no basis in reality, but were at levels specifically designed to garner political support at the time.
• What has happened within HS2 Ltd is fraud under the provisions of the 2006 Fraud Act. The arguments and actions that got HS2 on the books and have kept it there since have misrepresented the facts, presented false pictures and abused positions of trust – all three tests of the 2006 Fraud Act.
• HS2 Ltd has a ‘complete unfamiliarity with the truth’ and a far too close relationship with many suppliers and other parties which would directly financially benefit from the project and the associated developments around stations sites.
• A ‘golden child’ status has meant both government and opposition politicians have on a cyclical basis dismissed and in many cases hidden any and all of the statutory scrutiny and well-founded criticisms of the project and its management from independent sources.
• HS2 is an has always been an environmental disaster as far as the natural world is concerned, with constant attempts being made to belittle the actual impact and inflate proposed mitigations. The land take will be greater than any single motorway ever built in the UK, due to the fact that HS2 abandoned the Kent Principles and was designed for 250mph.
• Employees of HS2 Ltd who have wished to raise concerns about the project have been summarily dismissed or have reportedly been paid for their silence, seemingly as standard practice.
• If there were to be any costs as a result of cancellation from contracts that relate to construction, given that scheme does not have Notice to Proceed, then someone should be going to jail.
• The idea of potentially going ahead with HS2 because something equating to between 5-10% of the final end cost has already been wasted would be a gross misuse of public funds.
• Whilst we fully support the idea of rail infrastructure spend in the North of England to be prioritised ahead of HS2, the current NPR seem to ‘come from the same place’ and make all the same mistakes, for all the same reasons, as HS2 does. NPR needs to revisit the Eddington Review and make an assessment of what is actually needed.
• Grossly underestimated costs and over-optimistic passenger forecasts and construction timescales have the potential to monopolise transport infrastructure spending for decades to come.
• HS2 Ltd is not now and never has been in a position to deliver HS2 effectively, with the organisation displaying a bunker mentality and complete institutional intransigence.
• The supposed capacity benefits of HS2 have always been disingenuous, as they try to suggest that notionally creating space for more trains would actually equate the provision of more trains. This has never been the case. There has always been a requirement in the HS2 business case for cuts to existing services or ‘classic line savings’, which in the latest published business plan stand at £11.1bn. By definition, this is what freeing up capacity means, losing the trains you already have and potentially losing connectivity too for town and cities not on the HS2 route.
• Due to deliberately falsified figures, the business case claims that HS2 would run at an operating profit, which is highly unlikely. It is far more likely that HS2 would require a massive ongoing subsidy, the implications of which do not appear to have been considered by Government.
• HS2 Ltd has been beset with insidious revolving door employment policies which have seen construction industry secondees embedded within HS2 Ltd, staff seeming to move on a merry-go-round between HS2 Ltd, construction firms and consultancies involved with the project.
• It is beyond all realms of credibility to imagine that the recent multi-billion cost inflation happened overnight, and it is clear that people knew and they chose not to say anything, with the progression of HS2 being a case of the Government and the civil service misleading both the House of Commons and the House of Lords as well as probably breaking the law.
• Benefits have been invented in an attempt to retrofit reasoning for building the project, after the decision to adopt it had already been made, whilst many of the standard soundbites supporting the project, and indeed submissions to this review heavily rely on fact-free emotive phrases like “essential”, “transformational benefits”, “game changer”, “once in a generation opportunity” and the like.
• The suggestion that benefits of the project should now be projected out for 120 years is as ludicrous a concept as suggesting as it would have been possible to predict the way we live and work today, back when Queen Victoria was still on the throne.
• Ridiculously desperate statements are now coming out of HS2 Ltd, with the Stocktake report from Allan Cook claiming that each HS2 train would free up capacity for 11 extra trains on the existing network. It is unbelievable that the new chairman has been put in a position whereby he is now responsible for such a ridiculous claim. This is a perfect example of the fact that HS2 Ltd is a shamelessly rogue organisation, with people who feel that they can simply make absolutely anything up
• In terms of the supposed transformational benefit of HS2, every single piece of international evidence shows that high speed rail projects drag more economic activity to the dominant economic centre. The idea that HS2 might help cure the North-South divide is propagated purely by those with a vested financial interest in building HS2, cashing in on potential land-grabs around stations sites and those stupid enough to believe them, that HS2 will do exactly the opposite of what similar projects have done across the world.
• HS2 Ltd have never looked at the full range of costs of the project. There are so many missing and off the books costs, such as how it plumbs into the existing rail system and like where the electricity is coming from, both in terms of generation and transmission.
• Because management did not want designs and costs of HS2 to be fully informed during the petitioning process, ground surveys were not conducted before a the HS2 bill became and act. However, for some unknown reason, surveys where not immediately undertaken and remain incomplete, with it being questionable as to whether it is actually possible to build certain parts of HS2, such as the Chiltern Tunnel through compacted chalk and the route through the Cheshire Brine Fields.
• Whilst disruption to rail users during construction will be severe, disruption to road users and businesses, which will be as bad if not worse, has never once been considered or calculated.
• Attempting to make savings by reducing the speed but keeping to the same route makes no sense, because everything about the project and the route has been determined entirely based on the expected speed of 250mph. There would be a lot of anger if the speed were reduced, but the current route retained, especially as a lower speed would mean the flexibility to bend HS2 around sensitive ecological sites and communities.