HS2 opponents to appear before Blank Cheque Bill Committee, Tuesday 9th July.

Stop HS2 will be joined tomorrow by HS2 Action Alliance and the 51m group of local councils opposing HS2 in giving oral evidence to a Committee of MPs. The ‘short paragraph’ required by the committee submitted by Stop HS2 reads as thus:

“Stop HS2 is opposed to the HS2 proposals and the passage of this Bill. Notwithstanding political reasons for having an early vote on HS2, this Bill appears to be solely aimed at allowing the costs of HS2 to continue to spiral, without transparent financial accountability. Initial cost estimates from the DfT showed that HS2 would require £750m worth of spend prior to the next general election, but the most recent estimates have been put in the region of £1.1bn. The Bill asks for an unspecified amount of tax-payers money to be spent on developing HS2, with no accounts to be presented until after the next election. At the Public Accounts Committee, it was shown that consultants contracted to develop HS2 have made serious and fundamental mistakes, whilst going severely over-budget, with no redress sought by HS2 Ltd or the DfT. It seems that this Bill is intended to endorse and perpetuate this state of affairs, which is why we have dubbed it ‘The Blank Cheque Bill’. In the three years between the initial March 2010 announcement of HS2 and early 2013, there was no suggestion that a Paving Bill would be necessary for developing HS2, and it now seems to have appeared for no reasons other than to endorse financial irresponsibility and political expediency.” 

Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2 said:
“We are very pleased to be invited to give evidence to the HS2 paving bill committee.  However, the real test is whether they listen to the people giving evidence and make changes based on the criticisms of the bill.”

“We are concerned that no environmental groups who are critical of HS2 have been invited to give evidence, especially after listening to Simon Burns’ statements in the debate on HS2 and ancient woodland on Wednesday.  As Michael Fabricant pointed out in the debate, we cannot lecture other countries on care for the environment, while bulldozing through our own ancient woodland.”

“It’s important to realise that even if HS2 was cancelled tomorrow, this bill could still be used as a blank cheque book on other High Speed Rail proposals any time in the future.  That makes it vital to have proper scrutiny and not just wave it through.” 

Committee sessions will be available to view live via BBC Democracy Live and Parliament TV.

The full schedule of oral evidence which will be heard by the committee is:

 

Tuesday 9 July 8.55am and 2.00pm in the Boothroyd Room Portcullis House
c8.55am until no later than 10.00amLondon Borough of Camden; Nottingham City Council
c10.00am until no later than 11.00amManchester City Council; Staffordshire County Council; Geoff Inskip, on behalf of Centro and Passenger Transport Executive Group
c11.00am until no later than 11.25pmProfessor John Tomaney, Professor of Urban and Regional Planning, University College London
c2.00pm until no later than 3.00pm51m; HS2 Action Alliance; Stop HS2
c3.00pm until no later than 3.45pmSheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership
c3.45pm until no later than 4.15pmNetwork Rail; Greengauge 21
c4.15pm until no later than 5.00pmCountry Land & Business Association;

Campaign to Protect Rural England

 

Thursday 11 July 11.30am and 2.00pm in the Boothroyd Room Portcullis House
c11.30am until no later than 12.15 pmBritish Chambers of Commerce; Transport Scotland
c2.00pm until no later than 2.30pmCampaign for Better Transport; Passenger Focus
c2.30pm until no later than 3.15pmInstitution of Civil Engineers; Crossrail Limited;

HS1 Limited

c3.15pm until no later than 3.45pmRail Freight Group
c3.45pm until no later than 4.30pmDepartment of Transport; HS2 Limited

 

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