Campaigners welcome Commons HS2 debate

Leader of Bucks County Council Martin Tett
Leader of Bucks County Council Martin Tett

NEWS there is to be a parliamentary debate on HS2 after much campaigning, has been welcomed by anti-HS2 groups and people across the Advertiser and Review region.

MPs, councils and other organisations have been voicing their opposition to the proposed high speed link between London and Birmingham ever since it was announced by the previous Government last year.

Rae Sloan from Twyford angry at Stpp HS2 petition not being accepted.'110831M-F979

Rae Sloan from Twyford angry at Stpp HS2 petition not being accepted.'110831M-F979

Earlier this month, we reported that campaigners against the link felt ‘utterly betrayed’ the government had said their 100,000-signature petition would not spark a debate in the House of Commons.

Campaign group Stop HS2 had obtained the 100,000 signatures on petitions prior to the e-petition website being launched in August.

Twyford campaigner Rae Sloan told the Advertiser then: “We feel utterly betrayed yet again by this government.”

But this week it was announced the backbench business committee, which has been given the power to decide if government e-petitions get a debate in Parliament, has granted a debate on HS2.

The debate, which will be held on October 13, has been secured following continual lobbying of the committee by MPs representing constituents along the proposed line.

Ms Sloan said: “It’s a huge relief, and it’s thanks to the MPs who fought for us because the situation was so unfair.

“And many thanks to everyone who signed it for us. I hope the government take it on board.”

Campaigner Penny Gaines, from Quainton, said: “We’re very pleased the backbench business committee are taking this issue seriously.

“But we’d still like people to sign the government’s petition because it makes clear to government there is genuine opposition to HS2.

“And before the debate we want people to write to their MPs to state their views.”

National Stop HS2 campaign co-ordinator Joe Rukin said: “This is a small but highly significant victory.

“HS2 is a massively important issue and it is about time it is debated properly.

Leader of Bucks County Council, Martin Tett has also welcomed the news.

Mr Tett, also chairs 51m, a group of 18 local councils challenging the government’s £32-billion rail project.

He said: “51m and the council welcome this debate. The government wants to commit at least £32 billion of taxpayers’ money to a scheme, which has been shown to be fundamentally flawed on every level.

“HS2 is found wanting on the business case, the environmental case, and viable alternatives have been swept aside in an attempt to give some credence to this vanity project. The impact this project will have on the UK, both to those living along the proposed route and to those whose existing rail services will be adversely affected, must not be underestimated.

“The UK does not need HS2 and cannot afford it. What is needed to boost the UK economy is rail infrastructure solutions today – not 20 or 30 years hence.

“We have demonstrated there are workable measures which can be put in place cheaply and swiftly – and the government needs to listen. I hope this debate will help open their ears.”

In south Northants, MP Andrea Leadsom, said she was delighted.

She said: “I am delighted that, with support from many colleagues across all parties, we have managed to secure this debate.

“The consultation on HS2 has now closed and the Government will be presenting their findings by the end of the year. It is extremely important that a project of such national significance, that will cost every household in the country £1,000, is debated and scrutinised closely.”

Chairman of north Oxon-based protest group VoXOpp, Bernie Douglas, said: “We are finalising some questions we would like our local MP to comment on, and hope to discuss with him.

“We understand the consultation was very much against it, and we’re just hoping to get a final outcome officially by the end of the year.”

For more information on HS2 and the 51m group, visit the 51m website. To sign the petition against HS2 visit Stop HS2

A tool to assist people with contacting MPs can be found here