Transport Secretary Phillip Hammond began his tour of the proposed route of HS2 today (22nd September), meeting MPs and campaign group leaders, whilst hundreds turned to the streets to protest against the programme. 

Joe Rukin, who attended the first meeting with Hammond in Coventry said; 

“Is his mind is made, up. We put serious questions to him about the business case but he didn’t come up with any serious answers. When we asked if the DfT would proceed even if HS2 didn’t have a viable business case under government rules, he just said that ‘It’s a very strategic project and some benefits can’t be expressed in monetary terms.’ When we asked if he believes there will be a 267% in passenger numbers he just said ‘This is the figure the model generates’ and then went on about the fact everywhere in the country will be in ‘commuting distance’, reinforcing what we have said about this all being about London. He skipped an answer on video conferencing replacing travel in the future even though it’s happening now, and he completely ignored the issue of CO2 when but banged on about sustainability.” 

“He’s selling this on things like every minute spent on a train is wasted, which is totally ludicrous. It’s like saying if you have ever seen anyone on a laptop on a train, you are mistaken. The business case shows that no-one ever works on trains. He said he did not want to see one inch of countryside covered in concrete unnecessarily, well just having one inch of countryside covered in concrete because of this would be unnecessary, there is just no need for this. He seems to have pushed through a programme which has been put forward on the sketchiest basis. The government are bypassing all the basics in terms of what they should do. It’s clear the cost benefit analysis is flawed as he wouldn’t even defend it.” 

Lizzy Williams who attended the second meeting in Brackley said; 

 “The Secretary of State insisted that ‘This is in the long term national interest, we are not going to say we do not have the money.’ He also compared the public consultation process to that in China claiming it would be ‘restricting the business competition we need to face’. He admitted that ‘this is a line without stations’ and ‘communities along the line will not receive economic benefits’ which we all knew anyway. I disagreed with him about the importance of the number of jobs which will be lost due to diversification of farms to create local business as being significant and he wasn’t interested in the fact that it will kill all rural communities it affects along the line, which I have clearly witnessed alongside the M6 Toll. M42 and major A road projects she has walked through. 

The meeting in Brackley was described by all who attended, including Andrea Leadsom MP, as both disappointing and unencouraging. Stop HS2 urged individuals to engage in the consultation process and now take action to stop this. 

Andrea Leadsom MP, who called  a public meeting in response to the public outcry said; 

“I do think that Philip Hammond didn’t expect the strength of public feeling, the strength or size of the demonstration.” 

“I don’t think that all is lost. We have a national lobby day for MPs where we will have people arguing against the business case which is fundamentally flawed. I could lie naked on line and my vote would make no difference, so what we have to do is influence. Five days after the spending review, we will send a message that says we will challenge the assumptions which they have made. I would urge everybody to say surely we should be upgrading the existing infrastructure, surely there are other things that could be done, and we have to keep on going.”

Notes to Editors:

STOP HS2 is the national group campaigning on behalf of anti-HS2 action groups up and down the proposed route. See http://www.stophs2.org.

  1. The DfT has published new MORE DETAILED route maps. These can be found at http://www.stophs2.org/news/133-new-full-maps-out
  2. For more details contact Joe Rukin on 07811 371880 or Lizzy Williams on 07842 164880.
  3. Lizzy, who having walked ¾ of the line to date will recommence at 11am in Wendover on 23rd Sept. For details of Lizzys walk call 07842 164880 or visit www.walkhs2.co.uk


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