Let voters decide on the fate of HS2
Opponents of unpopular rail scheme demand a referendum
CAMPAIGNERS in Bucks have called for a referendum into whether HS2 should be scrapped.
Protesters against the deeply unpopular rail project want to see a Scottish independence-style referendum which would allow the public to decide for themselves whether the scheme should go ahead.
The Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems have all publicly backed HS2, insisting it will boost Britain’s economy and transport system.
Bucks environmentalists have been forced to switch strategy from fighting for the project to be scrapped to arguing for better ways to minimise the impact of the rail line on the Chilterns, as HS2 moves closer to reality.
But a debate by MPs about a referendum has breathed new life into the fight and fuelled calls in Bucks for British voters to go to the polls to decide on HS2.
MPs discussed the issue in the Commons on Friday, looking into whether public money should be used to fund the £50 billion project.
The possibility of a referendum was put on hold until after May’s general election, but protesters believe that if the public were given the chance to have a say on the situation, the government would be forced to scrap the project.
Although the proposed referendum would focus on public spending on HS2, if a poll showed that people did not want their money to be spent on the project, it would effectively derail the entire scheme, which is dependant on public funding.
Chris Wilson, a member of Amersham Against HS2 group, said: “Polls in national newspapers have shown about 80 per cent of people are against HS2, so I’m sure if there was a referendum on HS2 we would get a similar result. I think the public would want the money used on other things.”
Chesham and Amersham MP Cheryl Gillan took part in the debate on Friday.
After the meeting she said: “This project needs public money to go ahead so if there was a referendum, and people didn’t want that, then it would be difficult to see how it could progress.”
HS2 Action Alliance director Hilary Wharf said: “I think it would be great if a referendum took place. It would put the issue right back in the public’s mind.
“The government will not want to do it, but it’s something I would back.”