Calls increase for Government to scrap HS2

Calls increase for Government to scrap HS2

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The Government should scrap High Speed Two (HS2) and invest in better rail links for London and the Northern cities, according to the London Assembly Conservative group.

The UK’s planned high-speed rail link has become too expensive, and the business and environmental cases are flawed, according to a report from the GLA Conservatives.

The Government should instead prioritise rail links between Northern cities, and new lines to south east London, Surrey and Hertfordshire through Crossrail Two, it said.

The report comes as the Government is consulting on the future of HS2.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced that no more ancient woodland will be cleared for HS2 while the review is ongoing, though other preparatory work continues.

But Tony Arbour, London assembly member for Hounslow, Kingston and Richmond, and author of the GLA Conservatives’ report, said the cost of the project had become “indefensible”.

He said: “With HS2 due to cost almost £90 billion and wreak environmental damage across swathes of our city, it would be simply irresponsible to press on with the construction of this line.”

He added: “We very much hope that the Mayor will agree with us that Crossrail Two is infinitely more important for the welfare of Londoners than HS2.

“The project is enormously expensive and disruptive and we’re hard put to see what the benefit will be for London.”

Lottie Jones, chair of the Stop HS2 campaign’s Hillingdon branch, said the Conservative report was “good news” after prolonged silence from City Hall.

The Ruislip resident said all preparatory work on the rail link must stop while the Government’s independent investigation is ongoing.

She said: “Even if it doesn’t involve ancient woodland, it’s still involving hedges, and fields. There are still properties being taken away from people.

“There are still residents turfed out of their homes and businesses. Their lives are being so disrupted, it’s terrifying.”

Ms Jones stressed that construction work for HS2 has not started, and it was not too late to stop the project – but said the lack of advocacy from the Mayor has been “very disappointing”.

She said: “Sadiq Khan doesn’t seem interested, which is a concern because he absolutely should be.

“He seems to have forgotten about outer London and greater London.”

A spokesperson for the Mayor said HS2 and Crossrail Two were both vital for the capital.

He said: “The whole of the UK is in desperate need of rail investment. And it can’t be a zero-sum game, playing the needs of one part of the country against another.

“That’s why the Mayor has made clear his support for HS2 to substantially increase capacity on services in and out of London, linking the capital to other parts the country.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport said: “The new Secretary of State has established an independent review into HS2 which will provide the department with clear advice on how and whether the project should proceed. We are not going to pre-empt the outcome of the report or recommendations it may make.”

By LDRS Reporter Jessie Mathewson

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