The Department for Transport and HS2 Ltd are already impressing MPs on the Stage 2 route in exactly the way they have impressed everyone affected by Stage 1 for the last three years, in displaying no ability to answer questions.
After putting parliamentary questions concerning the plans in her Warrington North constituency, Labour MP Helen Jones described the HS2 assessments as “ludicrous”, which show signs of a plan worked out on “the back of an envelope”, feeling that the assessments of the impact on her area by HS2 Ltd were “non-assessments”.
In line with what those of us who have been studying the plans since March 2010 all know, whilst the Government have been keen to plug the ‘economic benefits’ of HS2, all of those figures are completely invalid as they take no account of and economic disadvantages of the project, such as lost jobs, lower property values and worsened transport links. Warrington is one of the places which is expected to lose direct rail services after stage 2 of HS2 is completed.
After asking Patrick McLoughlin what assessment has been made of the economic effects of the HS2 route on Warrington, he minister replied by saying that it was the intention of the DfT “to carry out a review into the effects in due course”. She did get an answer on the number of properties which would be affected, saying 21 properties in Warrington North would be demolished with three more at risk of demolition.
In response, Helen Jones said;
“These answers are simply ludicrous. The initial proposals have been announced without any analysis of the impact on communities. The minister knows how many properties are in danger of demolition, but not how many other properties will be affected in other ways; for example planning blight. This is the sort of detail people would expect to be readily available. What other details have been left to be assessed at a future date? People’s homes and communities are under threat and these plans leave them hanging without proper answers.”
“I am also astonished that the Department for Transport cannot give an assessment of the economic benefits or disbenefits to Warrington of the HS2 route. These answers show all the signs of a plan which is being worked out on the back of an envelope. It is simply not good enough.”
Stop HS2 Campaign Coordinator Joe Rukin said;
“Supporters of HS2 try to dismiss all the opposition to this project as a bunch of nimbies, but we are not and this statement from Helen Jones shows that. What happens is people find out about HS2 because of local concerns and that encourages them to look into the plans. When they look into the plans, they find the whole thing is being run by sentiment and sound-bite and there is no substance behind it. That is why opposition to HS2 has been so strong on Stage 1 of the route so far and why it now will be on Stage 2, because people have been bothered enough to read and understand what is being proposed. When people make that step, they quickly realise that HS2 is a vanity project, a fast train for fat cats with no business case, no environmental case and no money to pay for it.”