South Northants Council: HS2 is the fast track to ‘noise and poverty’

High Speed Rail in Kent

High Speed Rail in Kent

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HS2 will create financial hardship, a long term noise nuisance and a permanent scar on the region’s beautiful unspoilt countryside, according to a draft report due to submitted to the Government by South Northants District Council.

The district council is set to be joined by Northamptonshire County Council and South Northants MP Andrea Leadsom in its condemnation of the controversial scheme.

But both authorities are set to back the principle of high speed rail,

The responses will form part of the Government’s consultation on HS2, which is set to end on July 29. The current plan would see a new high speed line running from London to Birmingham, cutting through south Northants to the east of Brackley.

Network Rail figures show the West Coast Line will reach capacity by 2024 and HS2 aims to free up space on the commuter line with the number of direct services to London Euston from Northampton increasing from 35 to 51 trains.

The new line also aims to reduce journey times between London and Birmingham by 30 minutes.

But last week South Northants Council, which is a member of 51m, a group of 14 local authorities affected by HS2, unveiled a 128 page document outlining its opposition to the scheme, saying it would ‘bring no benefit to the district’.

Other criticisms included:

> HS2 will cause planning blight in the District for years and financial hardship for many residents

> It will be a permanent scar across beautiful unspoilt countryside

> It will create long term noise and disturbance nuisance

> It will not deliver the economic benefits promised in the Government’s business case

> HS2 is irreversible not just in terms of its impact on the countryside and the hardworking families and businesses who live and work along the route, but will also place a massive new burden on the overstretched public purse

> The business case for investing £33billion in HS2 doesn’t stack up

The document also includes responses from Syresham, Bradden and Slapton Parish Councils – all opposing the scheme.

But the report, which will be considered by the council on July 27 before being submitted, does lend support to the principle of high speed rail.

That is a view echoed by Northants County Council, which voted in favour of that same principle at its full council meeting of June 23.

Cabinet member for infrastructure and transport, Councillor Andre Gonzalez De Savage, said the council supports the idea of high speed rail, but does not back HS2.

The county council has not yet drawn up its official response, but Mr Gonzalez De Savage said: “We don’t agree with HS2. Unless we can see some real benefits we can’t back it.

“The business case would really have to stack up, rather than being just a huge bill. The principles are right but the business case doesn’t add up.

“The Government should go away and re-think it all.

“We would like faster, cleaner, more modern trains with better facilities and stations, but we are not in favour of spending billion of pounds on HS2. We need to be able to see robust benefits before we can support any scheme.

”We also have to ask if this is the right time fiscally. I don’t think it is.”

And MP Mrs Leadsom said she will also be opposing the scheme, saying that the business plan does not stack up.

“There is a skewing of resources in favour of one part of England,” she said.

“There are other options like RP2 which could be looked at, and there is no clear answer as to why that wouldn’t work. The argument is that it would cause disruption at Euston, but HS2 would do that too.

“There is no clear point why HS2 is the only show in town. It is an extraordinary amount of money at a very tight time.”

The estimated cost of the scheme is £34billion.

For more information on HS2 visit www.hs2.org.uk

To see South Northants Council’s response in full visit www.southnorthants.gov.uk/HighSpeed2RailLink