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Lichfield campaigners vow to continue their fight against HS2

Campaigners in Lichfield have vowed to fight on after the Government gave HS2 the go-ahead.

The high speed rail line would cut through parts of Lichfield and the surrounding villages.

But despite fierce protests along the entire length of the route, Transport Secretary Justine Greening confirmed the decision to push ahead with the scheme today (January 10).

However, the Whittington and Lichfield District StopHS2 Action Group criticised the decision.

A spokesman for the group said: “Ms Greening has ignored the evidence in reaching this decision, repeating discredited arguments about job creation, increased capacity and closing the North-South divide, when study after study has shown that alternatives are available which would meet those targets at a fraction of the cost.

“The Government estimates that HS2 will cost £32bn and will create 40,000 jobs, which is an abysmally poor return; capacity on the West Coast Main Line could be doubled without building any new track by adding more carriages and reducing the number of first-class carriages.

“And the idea that taking 25 minutes off a journey will shift the economic balance of the country is frankly ridiculous.”

Last year’s consultation produced 55,000 responses, but, the spokesman said the process was “window-dressing”.

“The Government claims to have listened,” he added. “Today’s decision proves that it had already made its mind up that this vanity project would go ahead.

“But the fight is not over yet. An Environmental Impact Assessment has yet to be carried out. The details of the second phase, the extensions to Manchester and Leeds, will not be announced until next year, and that will spark another massive bout of opposition.

“The hybrid bill to provide the powers to build the route will not be introduced until the end of 2013 and we promise that our efforts to defeat this white elephant will not be diminished by today’s announcement.”

As well as arguing over the impact on the environment and the business case, the group have also claimed Lichfield residents will feel pain from HS2 without reaping any of the benefits

The spokesman added: “For the people of Lichfield and surrounding areas the scheme has no benefit at all, just uncertainty which affects house prices and if it goes ahead years of construction blight.

“If it runs it will not stop at Lichfield or Tamworth so the area will never see a transport benefit either.

“The group would ask everybody locally to support the on-going campaign. Information can be found on the group’s web site at wldstophs2.com.

“The group’s next meeting date will be announced shortly and we urge people to come and support us.”

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