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Campaigners call for halt to HS2 after Transport Minister warns scheme could be late and over budget

Campaigners have called for the plug to be pulled on HS2 after the Transport Minister revealed the controversial scheme was likely to come in over budget and years later than planned.

An artist's impression of HS2
An artist’s impression of HS2

The high speed rail scheme linking London, the Midlands and the north, will see the line cut through parts of Lichfield and surrounding villages.

But now Transport Minister Grant Shapps has warned the project could be delayed by up to five years.

And with the bill for the rail line also expected to continue rising, Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2, said enough was now enough.

“It’s been clear to anyone watching that HS2 Ltd have been in major trouble for some time,” she said.

“They couldn’t stick to the budget, and the supposed opening date has remained unchanged while the start of construction has been repeatedly put back time again, and there is still no sign of Notice to Proceed which will enable HS2 to start actual building work.

“What’s clear from Grant Shapps’ statement is the very dire state of the HS2 project, just a couple of months after Government ministers were claiming the budget and schedule were fine. 

“With the acknowledgement of the delays, there is absolutely no need to continue with preparatory works while the Oakervee review is going on and we call on the Government to halt them immediately. 

“They’ve given up the pretence that they can get it built to the original timescale, so there is no need for urgency.

“The damage is real, the damage is irreversible and the damage is ongoing.  The only reason for continuing is to make it harder to call a halt to HS2.

“It’s like a slash and burn of the countryside for no reason other than to wreck it.

“When HS2 costs have gone up in the past, we’ve seen HS2 proponents make up benefits to try and counter them. But that’s no way to run a major infrastructure project.

“The increase in costs are real, any proposed extra benefits are nebulous and made up.  Meanwhile they ignore the environmental costs of HS2, which are very real.

“We call on Boris Johnson to be the Prime Minister who cancels HS2 and looks at the real infrastructure needs of the country.”

“Obscuring the true costs”

Mr Shapps confirmed in a statement that HS2’s budget would rise further.

“There is no future in obscuring the true costs of a large infrastructure project – as well as the potential benefits,” he said.

But Joe Rukin, Stop HS2’s campaign manager, said the project must be halted immediately.

“It is now absolutely clear that parliament and the public have been callously and systematically lied to in a calculated manner over the cost and schedule of HS2 for a number of years by senior ministers,” he said. We have been lied to from start to finish.

“Work on the project must stop immediately.

“Its the same old story, they are still not including all the costs, but HS2 proponents are determined to make up a load of new benefits.

“We are now at the  point where you really have to ask what’s the point of all this?

“HS2 has lurched from one disaster to another, and yet no-one is prepared to put it out of its misery and cancel HS2.”

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Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.

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