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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.

Great concern over HS2 continues. The business case is seriously flawed and represents 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. On 26 June, 2013 the Secretary of State for Transport revealed a revised figure for the project of £42.6 billion.This figure does not include £7.5 billion for rolling stock.

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.

In opposing the project 51m is  joined by a growing number of 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 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. 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.  

L A T E S T …. 

The petitioning period for Additional provision 4 (October 2015) finished on 13th November 2015

Suplementary Environmental statement 3 and Additional Provision 4 - published by the Government on 30 October, 2015. To view the report click here

Residents’ Commissioner – reports and information about the project and for members of the public affected by HS2. Click here 

HS2 Autumn Update – to view the reports produced by HS2 Ltd go to the following link click here

CPRE has produced maps to show the the impacts in terms of construction and operation of HS2 click here

High Speed Rail in the Chilterns: Promoters Exhibits – these documents are the HS2 exhibits which may be used during Select Committee when hearing petitions from the Chiltern area click here

Hybrid Bill Chilterns Petitioners – to read the evidence from the sessions click here

Letter to the Prime Minister – a number of transport experts wrote on the subject of HS2. To read it HS2 letter sent to Prime Minister

The cost of HS2 – Additional Provision 2. To see details click on the following link HS2 Additional Provision July 2015

HS2 Hybrid Bill Committee – Chilterns Long Tunnel proposal. For more information on the proposal see (1) CLT summary and (2) CLT Full report Report

Chilterns Long Tunnel – the new 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.

‘Jobs and Growth Now’ The 51m Alternative Investment Challenge to HS2

Alternative ways of spending the £50 billion, earmarked for HS2, on schemes which will bring more immediate economic benefits across the UK are outlined in a document published by 51m, the cross-party alliance of 18 local authorities opposing the controversial rail project.

In ‘Alternative Investment Strategy for Jobs and Growth’ 51m sets out in detail how the £50 billion cost for HS2’s track and trains could be better targeted to bring faster, higher value economic benefits across the entire country. To read the full statement click here 51m statement