Since January, 2012 when the Government announced its decision to proceed with High Speed 2 (HS2) linking London and Birmingham, later extending to Manchester, Leeds, Edinburgh and Glasgow, 51m has been challenging the project.
The business case for HS2 is seriously flawed, representing very poor value for money to the taxpayer. It will make a minimal contribution to the country’s carbon reduction target and the environmental impact will be devastating. Above all, the country cannot afford it.
51m is an alliance of councils that has come together to challenge the evidence base of the HS2 project. They are known as “51m” because that represents how much HS2 will cost each and every Parliamentary Constituency…£51 million, based on the original estimate of £33 billion.
On 26 June, 2013 the Secretary of State for Transport revealed a revised figure for the project of £42.6bn, excluding £7.5bn for rolling stock. In November, 2015 the estimate was further revised to £55.7bn. The project will also trigger Barnett formula payments to Northern Ireland and Scotland amounting to £7.4bn, taking the overall figure to £63.1bn
In opposing the project 51m is joined by many organisations and transport experts. The Institute of Directors referred to HS2 as a “grand folly” . The Public Accounts Committee said the Department for Transport had failed to present a convincing strategic case for a project with dwindling benefits and spiralling costs. In a report published in October, 2013 the Treasury Select Committee said there were “serious shortcomings” in the current cost-benefit analysis for HS2.
A 2013 report commissioned by the Government revealed that HS2 would make more than 50 places across the UK worse off – such as Aberdeen, Bristol and Cardiff.
In November, 2013 a report from the CentreForum think tank said, “pet projects such as HS2 should be canned. We can’t afford them. Smaller less glamorous projects will give us better results, and we’ll get them much faster and more cheaply.”
In 2015 the Government finally published the assessment of HS2 made by the Cabinet Office’s Major Projects Authority in 2011. Its ‘amber/red’ assessment concluded the successful delivery of the project was in doubt, with major risks or issues apparent in a number of key areas. All subsequent MPA reports have also given ‘amber/red’ assessments for the project.
In April, 2014 the Institute of Economic Affairs concluded the government risks misleading the public with claims that HS2 will transform the North of England.
In January, 2015 the Public Accounts Committee criticised the Department for Transport saying it “still lacks a clear strategic plan for the rail network, and it is unclear how the Department makes decisions about which programmes to prioritise for investment.”
In March, 2015 the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee concluded “there was no convincing case” for HS2.
In May, 2015 it was reported that the team behind HS2 concluded that there was no business case for extending the line to Scotland.
We also believe a robust mitigation plan is essential and in this respect 51m will fight for the best deal for local residents. In our view, the cost of mitigation measures represents an essential price the Government must pay.
HS2 Hybrid Bill Committee
Chilterns Long Tunnel
The case for tunnel to preserve the AONB – see news release
Health and Wellbeing Pilot Study in the Chilterns AONB
To read the study produced by the Chiltern Conservation Board click on the following link CCB Health and Wellbeing Pilot Study.