Sir David Lidington statement after meeting with HS2 review bosses

Inset, MP for Aylesbury David Lidington
Inset, MP for Aylesbury David Lidington

Since the member of parliament (MP) for Aylesbury, Sir David Lidington, resigned from the Government on the 24 July this year, he has made increasingly strong statements expressing his opposition HS2.

Only four weeks ago he said to this paper in a one-to-one interview after transport secretary Grant Shapps gave enabling works the go-ahead:

“I think that's the wrong decision. My view is that the enabling works should be halted. I think anything else looks as if it's prejudicing the result of the review. I think the priority now is to present the strongest possible case to the review, ideally for the scheme to be scrapped.”

On Tuesday this week, the MP met the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Independent Review of HS2, Douglas Oakervee and Lord (Tony) Berkeley.

Sir David Lidington has released the following statement regarding that meeting:

“Yesterday (Tuesday 8 October) I met the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Independent Review of HS2, Douglas Oakervee and Lord (Tony) Berkeley. During a 45 minute meeting, I made clear to them my strong preference for HS2 to be scrapped altogether. I repeated my long held belief that the business case on which the project is founded is weak. In particular, I expressed my scepticism about calculating economic benefit on the basis of the accumulated minutes of travelling time that were forecast to be saved through faster journeys and pointed out too that HS1 (the high-speed channel route) has never come near to attracting the number of passengers originally forecast.

“I said too that while the Review was taking place all enabling works on HS2 should cease, a point that I have made directly to the Secretary of State for Transport.

“If the Review and the Secretary of State for Transport concluded that HS2 should go ahead, then I said I wanted three improvements in particular to the scheme as currently proposed.

“First, the mined tunnel proposal for Wendover should be incorporated into the HS2 project. Such a step would mitigate considerably both the noise and visual impact of HS2 upon the village and surrounding area. This tunnel proposal is supported by a detailed technical case commissioned by residents in Wendover.

“Second, I asked that the Review demand a step change in the quality of HS2 Ltd’s engagement with members of the public. Like other MPs representing constituencies along the route, I have a file of cases where compensation has been paid late, where information has been withheld or where HS2 has simply failed to provide an adequate explanation of its decisions. There is no excuse for the highhanded and arrogant manner in which too often HS2 treats people whose lives are being disrupted by the project even ahead of construction.

“Third, I pointed out that people living between London and Birmingham for the most part get no direct benefit from HS2 because there is no intermediate station. This contrasts with HS1, where Javelin trains carrying commuters are allowed to use the high-speed tracks, making it easier for people in towns like Folkestone to travel to and from London. So I pressed Mr Oakervee and Lord Berkeley to recommend at least one intermediate station between “London and Birmingham if HS2 were to go ahead. The logical location for such a station would be where it is planned that HS2 and the Oxford Cambridge railway line should cross.”

HS2 are building 345 miles of new high-speed track which will connect the city centres of London, Birmingham, Manchester, and Leeds.

Work is just starting to get underway. Although the cost was originally projected to be £32.7bn in 2010, it is now estimated to exceed £80bn.