Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - OPINION - JULIAN WIL­LIAMS Den­ham

IT was re­ported last week that Bri­tain’s most se­nior civil ser­vant, Sir Jeremy Hey­wood, is re­view­ing HS2 as fears grow that the high­speed rail­way can­not be built with its £55 bil­lion bud­get in its cur­rent form.

Bear in mind that this is only the lat­est bud­get, and most ex­pect £55 bil­lion to be well short of the fi­nal cost.

So what can we ex­pect from a pro­gramme of cost-cut­ting?

I would sug­gest less mit­i­ga­tion, less en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion and less com­pen­sa­tion for busi­nesses and home­own­ers who are al­ready suf­fer­ing mas­sively from blight and un­cer­tainty.

Cost ‘sav­ings’ so far have in­cluded (thank­fully) the Heathrow link and (in­cred­i­bly) the Channel Tun­nel link. What­ever next?

Sir Jeremy should not be look­ing to save costs by cut­ting corners, but sav­ing tens of bil­lions by putting a stop to this non­sense now.

The gov­ern­ment’s cost ben­e­fit anal­y­sis for HS2 takes no ac­count of the dev­as­tat­ing dis­rup­tion faced by Den­ham, Hare­field, Maple Cross, Rick­mansworth and many sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties dur­ing the nine-year con­struc­tion pe­riod.

We are told that HS2 has cross-party sup­port and that it would not go ahead with­out it.

Isn’t it time that some­one in author­ity ad­mits that this project was a huge mis­take, and ar­range to pull the emer­gency cord?

U-turns tend to be con­sid­ered as neg­a­tive moves, im­ply­ing weak­ness, but this need not be the case where HS2 is con­cerned.

For my part I would ap­plaud the in­di­vid­ual or party who dis­played the courage to ad­mit that the plan­ners got it wrong: the wrong so­lu­tion to Bri­tain’s trans­port dif­fi­cul­ties, at the wrong time in the wrong place at the wrong price.

Might Sir Jeremy be the one to push the first domino? Or might the House of Lords see sense in the sum­mer?

We can al­ways hope.

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