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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.”

The Government continues to resist publishing the critical assessment of HS2 made by the Cabinet Office’s Major Projects Authority over two years ago. In January, 2014 Ministers blocked the release of the report by over-ruling a decision by the freedom of information watchdog that it should be disclosed to campaigners.

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.


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.

Revised Safeguarding Plans – June, 2014

HS2 Ltd has issued revised maps that are subject to the safeguarding directions issued on 24 October 2013. They replace previously issued maps published on 9 July 2013, as well as the draft maps that were subject to consultation between October 2012 and January 2013. Details of the changes to the previously published draft maps can be found in the notes on map changes

HS2 Phase 1 Environmental Statement Consultation

To read the 51m final response to the Environmental Statement Consultation click on the following link 51m Final ES Consultation Response – 27 February 2014.

To read the Bucks Councils final response click on the following link Buckinghamshire Councils ES final response HS2 Phase 1

To read the Legal Advice on the Noise Impact Assessment click on the following link Legal advice Noise-1

Buckinghamshire Blueprint

To read the Buckinghamshire Mitigation Blueprint for HS2 click on the following link HS2 ES blueprint 24Feb14

51m Response to the Phase 2 Consultation (Y Route)

To read the response to the HS2 Phase 2 Consultation on the Route from the West Midlands to Manchester, Leeds and beyond click on hs2 Y consultation response final

The HS2 Ltd/KPMG Report

‘A Desparate Attempt to Justify a Seriously Flawed Project’

To read the statement from 51m click on – 51m kpmg report

Challenging HS2

51m continues to challenge the case for HS2. It urges all residents, wherever they live, to let their MP know how they feel about HS2. Use our ‘Write to your MP‘ link at the top of the page to find out who your MP is and how to contact them.

Questions to ask your MP

click on – Ten question

L A T E S T ….

Hybrid Bill Select Committee – provisional programme for September clcik on select comm sept-programme (1)

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 Action Alliance has published Valuing Property Blight: an Options Analysis. To read it click on the following link Paper-on-Property-Blight-by-HS2AA

HS2 Hybrid Bill Committee – for the July programme click on the following link HS2_Committee_programme_July

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

HS2 Residents’ Commissioner – the first in a series of regular progress reports from the Commissioner has been published - Residents Commissioner report May 2015

Cheryl Gillan – the Chesham and Amersham MP has been appointed the vice-chair of a panel responsible for flagging up environmental issues to Parliament.

Public support for HS2 at all-time low – survey says just 22 per cent now say £50bn project should be a spending priority for the next government.

Chilterns Long Tunnel – Campaigners launch their new case for tunnel to preserve the AONB – see news release

House of Lords Economic Affairs Select Committee – for oral and written evidence click on hol economic affairs.

Public Accounts Committee report on major rail infrastructure programmes including HS2 - to read the report click here.

Community and Environment Fund – to read the press release issued by 51m click on Councils send a clear message

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.

HS2 Petitions

All 1,925 petitions submitted to the Hybrid Bill Select Committee are available to view here 

‘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 19 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 

Environmental Audit Committee – HS2 and the environment

To read the report click on Environmental Audit Committee’s Report.

To read the press release click on Env Audit SC Press notice

Property Compensation Consultation

To read the response submitted by by 51m click on 51m Final Draft Property Compensation Consultation

To read the response submitted by Buckinghamshire County Council click on BCC Property Compensation Consulation 2013


National Audit Office attacks Government’s over-optimistic HS2 benefit analysis. The NAO said of the Department for Transport: “It does not always recognise the limitations of its analysis nor scrutinise outputs to make sure they make sense.” To read the executive summary click here

Institute of Economic Affairs Report – April 2014

To read the report Failure to Transform: High-Speed Rail and the Regeneration Myth click here 

Institute of Directors Report – Spring, 2014

To read the IoD report High Speed 2; on the wrong track IOD-Article-1