Since January, 2012 when the Government announced its decision to proceed with High Speed 2 (HS2) linking London and Birmingham, later extending to Manchester and Leeds, 51m has been challenging the project.
The third reading of the High Speed Rail (London to West Midlands) Bill was approved by the House of Commons on 23 March, 2016
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 Wales, 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. Smaller less glamorous projects will give better results, and be delivered much faster and more cheaply.”
In 2015 the Government finally published the assessment of HS2 made by the Cabinet Office’s Major Projects and Infrastructure Authority in 2011. Its ‘amber/red’ assessment concluded the successful delivery of the project was in doubt. All subsequent MPIA 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 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.
In June, 2016 a National Audit Office report said there were serious questions about achieving the current timetable and keeping to the £55.7bn budget.
In July, 2016 the Taxpayers’ Alliance claimed that the cost of HS2 could rise above £88bn when full regeneration costs were taken into account.
In September, 2016 the Adam Smith Institute said HS2 “is a reckles waste of £80bn.”
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.
Campaign for the Protection of Rural England
CPRE has produced maps to show the the impacts in terms of construction and operation of HS2 click here
The HS2 Paradox
Stop HS2 have produced a briefing paper which collates many of the arguments against HS2, along with the well-founded criticism of the project which has been raised by independent bodies click here