Would a new ‘M40’ be worse than HS2?
Chairman ‘hints’ at threat of motorway and homes over high speed line
CAMPAIGNERS against HS2 have rubbished claims from the leader of the controversial project that a new motorway could be built in the Chilterns if the project was to be scrapped.
Sir David Higgins, chairman of HS2 Ltd, gave an interview at the weekend in which he implied that HS2 being built is protecting the Chilterns Area of Natural Beauty from the combined threats of a new motorway and from more homes being built.
Sir David told the Sunday Times: “I went to the Chilterns and I said ‘Do you know what the biggest threat to the Chilterns is?’ and they said HS2, and I said, ‘No it’s housing’.
He also added: “I drive down the M40 all the time and I think ‘Imagine if we have to build another M40’.
However, his comments have been dismissed by opponents of the rail project as scaremongering.
Frank Partridge, chairman of Denham Against HS2, said: “I don’t take it seriously. It came out of left field, and I don’t think I was alone in being astonished.
“David Higgins is not in a position to start saying we need extra motorways.
“This is just a sort of threat and I can’t see that there is any need for a new motorway or where it would go.”
Sir David’s comments were also criticised by Chiltern District councillor Nick Rose, who is also the council’s lead spokesman against HS2.
He said: “Just when you think it can’t get any more farcical, Sir David Higgins says HS2 will protect the green belt, adding that the biggest threat will be the demand for new housing.
“Has anyone thought this one through?
“More than half of HS2’s passage through the Chilterns AONB is built on the surface, destroying tranquil countryside and ancient woodlands, and wrecking villages in the process.”
Sir David’s comments came as plans for an HS3 line, linking Manchester and Leeds were announced, which campaigners in this area say demonstrate that previous government comments about HS2 rejuvenating the north were false.
They also followed a YouGov poll, which showed that just 24 per cent of respondents are in favour of the scheme.
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