£30m grant scheme hailed ‘a joke’
FUNDS which are to be made available to communities along the HS2 route between London and Birmingham have been dismissed as ‘a joke’ by opponents of the project.
Transport minister Robert Goodwill announced last week that communities and businesses close to the high-speed line will benefit from up to £30million in grants, which are designed to be invested in public projects such as nature conservation, refurbishment of community centres, and measures to support local economies and employment.
Different groups will be able to bid for grants which are set to be rolled out when construction of the first phase of the line begins.
Mr Goodwill said: “It’s only right we do all we can to help those living and working close to this vital railway. These new funds, totalling £30m, are in addition to the comprehensive package of support we have already announced and will further help communities and businesses make the most of this once in a generation scheme and crucial part of the government’s long-term economic plan.”
However, campaigners against the project have scoffed at the plans.
Joe Rukin, campaign manager of Stop HS2, said: “I would say that the funds announced were a complete joke if it weren’t for the fact they are a bad joke.
“Offering £30m to help businesses and the environment equates to about £200,000 per mile, which is minuscule compared with the damage from HS2.”
Martin Tett, Bucks County Council leader and chairman of 51m, the alliance of local authorities against HS2, also criticised the funds: “To say that this is disappointing would be the understatement of the century. We wrote to the Prime Minister in August asking to work with the government to pull together a locally administered community and benefit scheme which would make a real different to the lives of those affected.
“HS2 Ltd have been very slow to respond and this fund certainly wasn’t worth holding one’s breath for.”