COMMITTED TO HS2
‘We need it now more than ever’
THE TRANSPORT Secretary is pressing forward with HS2 plans, saying we need it ‘now more than ever’.
Chris Grayling has also confirmed his commitment to the project by announcing £70 million worth of funding to support local communities and road safety along the route.
He said: “We need HS2 now more than ever. We’re facing a rapidly approaching crunch-point.
“In the last 20 years alone, the number of people travelling on our railways has more than doubled and our rail network is the most intensively used of any in Europe.
“We need it for the boost it will give to our regional and national economies. And we need it for the jobs it will create, and for the way it will link our country together.”
But the news has been met with criticism – and the multi-million pound money pot is routinely dismissed by critics who argue it is not enough.
Joe Rukin of Stop HS2 said: “If it was a normal building project under normal rules you would have to spend far more than this.”
Calling the announcement ‘deceitful’ he argued that £30 million had already been announced and said the money only amounts to around half a million pounds per mile.
He said: “Instead of funding going directly to authorities you’re going to have committees up and down the line bidding for a pot of money which is far too small.”
And added: “It’s really sad that a secretary of state has come in and is not listening to any of the arguments, and has come up with the idea that its going to be a good thing against all the evidence.
“He’s not paying the slightest bit of attention to any of the well founded criticisms of the project.”
Chiltern District Councillor Seb Berry, who represents Great Missenden, said: “In terms of the impact, it’s almost incalculable – the effect on peoples’ health, damage to local business and loss of visitor numbers.
“The money will in no way make up for the environmental destruction of the Great Missenden area.
“I’m very angry with what’s happened this year.”
THE LEADER of Bucks County Council has slammed an ‘insultingly low’ cash offer to improve communities blighted by HS2 as ‘peanuts’.
Martin Tett has lashed out at the Government for its £15 million Community and Environment Fund (CEF), saying it will have ‘virtually no impact’.
He is set to challenge the offer when he appears before the Lords’ High Speed Rail Select Committee on October 24.
On Wednesday the Government announced it had allocated £15m the CEF to be split between Bucks, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire.
The fund is intended to enhance community facilities, improve access to the countryside and protect the environment along the controversial train line’s route.
Mr Tett said: “The announcement is terribly disappointing and implies that the Government just hasn’t grasped the sheer scale of the disruption HS2 will cause to people’s lives and businesses in Buckinghamshire.
“HS2 is a £55 billion project which has already spent £2bn even before a single length of track has been laid.
“The allocation of £15 million in an area in which around twothirds of the length of phase one will be laid is insultingly low and wholly inadequate.
“When taken in the context of the misery HS2’s construction will cause residents over a 10 year period, this amount really is peanuts. It will have virtually no impact.
“I am also concerned that this fund will be centrally administered – local people are best placed to decide where the money is spent.”
The Lords committee can make recommendations to HS2 Ltd for extra mitigation for affected communities.
Mr Tett will also call for more money towards an Iver relief road, the relocation of the Great Missenden haul road further north, better mitigation for Wendover and a co-ordinated plan to ensure HS2 does not adversely affect the proposed East West rail line in the Calvert area.
Mr Tett appeared at the House of Commons’ HS2 Select Committee in January and won a raft of mitigation measures for the county.
Under threat: Denham Lock Wood (main image), Springwell Lake in the Colne Valley Park and Mantles Wood in the Chilterns (below left and right) could face damage from the HS2 project
On its way?: The Government has reasserted its commitment to HS2