The economic case behind a proposed high speed rail line that would cut through parts of Lichfield is set to be investigated.
Michael Fabricant, the city’s MP, confirmed that the House of Commons Transport Select Committee would now hold a full inquiry into the issue of the positive and negative elements of HS2 on the national economy.
Campaigners fighting against the line linking London with Birmingham and the north have always questioned the figures supporting the development of the route.
And as Mr Fabricant explained, they will now have the opportunity to formally put forward their side of the argument. He explained:
“Some weeks ago I asked a number of MPs to join me in writing to the Chairman of the Transport Select Committee asking that the Committee conduct a full inquiry into HS2. I was disappointed and surprised to learn that it wasn’t already on the schedule of work that they had planned to undertake.
“I am now delighted to hear that such an inquiry will now be undertaken. This will provide an opportunity for Transport Secretary Philip Hammond to set out the economic and transportation arguments for HS2 while, I am sure, the Anti HS2 Alliance and others organisations and individuals will be presenting alternative solutions for our rail system.
“While the findings of a Select Committee are not binding on Government, they do receive considerable publicity and the Secretary of State is obliged to comment in writing on each of the findings of the Committee following publication of their report. The hearings of the Committee, including all the evidence sessions, will be public and will be broadcast. Transcripts will be available on the Parliamentary website. I hope that this inquiry will shine a clear light onto the arguments for and against the construction of a new high speed line.”
Mr Fabricant confirmed that the inquiry would be another element of the wider debate into the issue of HS2.
“This public inquiry will happen in parallel with the Public Consultation organised by the Department of Transport into the route to be taken by HS2 if it goes ahead. The consultation will last five months and the Secretary of State will announce his findings at the end of 2011 or the beginning of 2012. He will also take the findings of the Select Committee into account.
“If it is decided that HS2 should proceed, it will then go to a further Committee of inquiry – a ‘Hybrid Bill Committee’, which is also public -and will sit for two to three years. This is a long process, but I am keen that there should be transparency and the opportunity for all sides to present their arguments.”