Andrea Leadsom on HS2 - "We need a fresh vote"
|Author: Laura Emily Dunn - Conservative||Published: 14th September 2021 14:44|
For me as an MP, dealing with what can only be described as the appalling treatment of my constituents by HS2 has taken on average 25% of my time since 2010, and it has caused real mental health issues for hundreds of local people.
Rt Hon. Dame Andrea Leadsom DBE MP speaking at the HS2 Westminser Hall Debate on 13th September 20121 said, "It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Mundell.
"This project first came to my attention back in 2009, when my party manifesto pledged to consult on this massive white elephant seemingly to make up for rejecting a third runway at Heathrow. As a new Back Bencher back in 2011, I led a debate begging the Government to look again at the economic case for the project then.
"HS2’s heroic forecasting of up to 4% year-on-year passenger growth was, even then, undermined by the experience of HS1, which had achieved less than half its forecast. The economic case for HS2 had assumed that all time spent on a train was wasted, so a 20-minute time saving between Birmingham and London could account for huge economic gain. The green credentials of HS2 assumed that the power required to run it would be 100% generated through renewable sources. At the time, the cost was forecast to be £32 billion, with HS2 opening by 2026.
"So, where are we now? Train passenger increases bottomed out long before covid and everybody can now work on a train using wi-fi. Government figures show the costs of the project have risen exponentially to well over £100 billion. Here we are in 2021, with enabling work only just begun.
"The High Speed Rail (Preparation) Act—the paving legislation—received Royal Assent in November 2013, effectively giving HS2 a blank cheque. I was one of the 38 Members who voted against it. Then we set up a compensation and mitigation forum, with a number of MPs who were determined to protect their constituencies. At the time, we were all promised that no expense would be spared to ensure that our communities and countryside were looked after. Well, how wrong that proved to be.
"The toll on lives and livelihoods has been massive. Andy, Ben, Murray and Anne in Radstone have had to battle for years to get HS2 to confirm what was agreed in writing during the hybrid Bill: a proper sound barrier to protect their village and a lowering of the line. Five years later these issues are still outstanding. Pauline and Doug’s successful holiday business was shut down by HS2 taking their land. Four years later, they are still awaiting compensation. They are stuck in their old home and have no income. The beautiful village of Chipping Warden is now surrounded by construction materials that HS2 has just dumped in this lovely countryside.
"For me as an MP, dealing with what can only be described as the appalling treatment of my constituents by HS2 has taken on average 25% of my time since 2010, and it has caused real mental health issues for hundreds of local people. My hon. Friend the Minister, who has responsibility for HS2, is working very hard to help, but I will just say it straight: HS2 is an appalling waste of money and I am ashamed of the way that it is being implemented. We need a fresh vote."