THE government’s decision to press ahead with controversial plans for a high-speed rail link through the Advertiser and Review region have been greeted with dismay by local councils and some local MPs this week.
On Tuesday, Transport Secretary Justine Greening announced the HS2 line from London to Birmingham will go ahead, with some modifications to offset environmental concerns, including extra tunnelling.
Leader of Bucks County Council Martin Tett, who chairs the 51m alliance of local councils challenging the scheme, said: “This is an immensely bad decision for Britain.
“At a time of national austerity with rising unemployment and a massive deficit, how can spending more than £32 billion on a rail line be justified?”
Councillor Rupert Fordham, of South Northants Council, said: “We are extremely disappointed with this decision. We recognise the need for investment in the country’s rail network but spending £14 billion on this part of HS2 is not the way to do it.
“We must also consider, along with other interests, whether this decision is one we would wish to challenge.”
Councillor Michael Gibbard, of Cherwell District Council, said: “We have always considered this project an enormous white elephant and are disappointed by today’s decision. We are not giving up. This is an early stage in the decision making and we will work with partners to consider a challenge.”
MP for Buckingham John Bercow said: “I want to reassure people living in the Buckingham constituency that I shall continue to oppose this costly and damaging scheme.
“I am wholly against the HS2 proposal on both environmental and economic grounds, not to mention the devastation and anguish it is already causing those whose properties and businesses lie on the line of route.”
“I shall shortly be meeting with the Transport Secretary to discuss my concerns and those of my constituents.”
MP for South Northants Andrea Leadsom said: “Many of those that have written to me have questioned why Network Rail has critiqued the alternatives to HS2 when they were clearly in favour of HS2 from the beginning.
“I strongly support the need for better transport infrastructure but I still believe the existing HS2 project is not the right project and is not good value for taxpayers.”
Bicester MP Tony Baldry said: “I think there are going to be concerns about its business case and I suspect a number of local authorities will be appealing for a judicial review on various aspects of the proposal, which would include the environmental aspects.
“While being clear that these concerns will continue, we have to face that a decision has now been taken and we need to ensure that possible mitigation measures are made to reduce the impact on the local community.
“The government has modified the route and has announced a whole range of new measures, so we all need a little bit of time to see what they are.”