HS2 campaigners look to general election

View from near Kingash of proposed HS2 Wendover Dean viaduct
View from near Kingash of proposed HS2 Wendover Dean viaduct
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It’s all eyes to the general election for HS2 campaigners who hope that plans for the high speed rail line could cause a political upset.

This month residents from parts of Buckinghamshire will appear before the HS2 select committee to lobby for the plans to be scrapped.

The appearance will be preceded with a site visit where committee members will see areas close to High Wycombe that will be affected by the controversial line.

But this process stands to be different for Aylesbury Vale, where depending on the outcome of the election the members at the site visit could be different from the hearing in June or July.

Joe Rukin, of Stop HS2 said that the election is a key time for the campaign, and that unless there is a big change at the May general election parliament can expect a year of strong lobbying from its members.

He said: “It’s all eyes to the election because there are lots of places up and down the line which are very affected by HS2 and only two parties who oppose HS2, the Greens and UKIP.

“Ed Balls has also said it will be in Labour’s election manifesto not to take on more borrowing for infrastructure and I don’t see how they can do that and still approve HS2.

“It is going to be a very interesting year up and down the line.

“Because the Tories have been so intransigent about it, it has to come down to the election.

“If we can’t stop it through the courts we will have to stop it through the election.”

And Bucks County Council leader Martin Tett, who is also chair of the 51m action group said that although he is Conservative himself, he does not think that the issue can be aligned with party politics when it is supported in principle by the three main parties.

He said: “Most local parties are opposed and most national parties are in favour.

“There’s not a lot that’s about party politics on this.

“When it comes to the election it is about what is best for the whole economy, but I do think it will be a key campaigning issue for this area.”

He added: “Come June or July we want the select committee to see all the areas so they really understand all the problems that HS2 will cause throughout Buckinghamshire.

“The reality is that the current government is in support of HS2 and it has been agreed in principle.

“A a council we can only effectively lobby for mitigation, but campaigners can lobby parliament and candidates during the election.”

FACTFILE

> In June or July members of the HS2 select committee will vist the Vale to see the impact that HS2 will have on the area.

> Affected residents and campaigners will then appear before the committee in Westminster to lobby against the high speed line.

> Campaigning has already begun for parliamentary candidates for the 2015 general election. All three major parties (Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem) support HS2, and campaigners believe UKIP and the Green Party who oppose the plan could do well along the line.