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High Profile Opponents Of HS2

We’re not alone – HS2 opposition grows!

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It's easy to think that we're the only ones questioning the Government's HS2 project - read on to see what others make of it...
MP's Opposed - LABOUR
Geoffrey Robinson (Lab, Coventry North West)
“A monumental waste of money and diversion of scarce resources.”
31 March 2011
Frank Dobson (Lab, Holborn and St Pancras)
“I do take a firm view – I am utterly opposed to HS2.”
Kevan Jones (Lab, North Durham) – Shadow Defence Minister
“It is a white elephant that will do nothing for the North East. What we need is the same amount invested in existing rail infrastructure, including the East Coast Main Line.
“That would have far more benefit for the North East and national economy.”
04 August 2011
Ronnie Campbell (Lab, Blyth Valley)
“I am beginning to wonder myself if it is a complete waste of time. We could do better things with the money.”
04 August 2011
John McDonnell (Lab, Hayes and Harlington)
"How can we make a judgement if we do not have the information on the specific effects on our area? This piecemeal approach is not the way any rational government would go about a consultation on possibly the largest capital infrastructure project in generations. Indeed it discredits the whole process. I am not willing to lend my support to a project for which I have no details of the implications for my constituency."
02 August 2011
Stephen Pound (Lab, Ealing North) – Shadow Northern Ireland Minister
“Those of us in Perivale certainly feel the pain, and there is no discernible indication of gain.”
31 March 2011
Kelvin Hopkins (Lab, Luton North)
“It is an unnecessary route and will be very expensive, and that money would be better spent elsewhere on modernisation, electrification and resignalling.”
31 March 2011
Ian Swales (Lib Dem, Redcar)
“I feel high-speed rail is of doubtful benefit to the North East.”
04 August 2011
Adrian Sanders (Lib Dem, Torbay)
“Rather than extra, speedy lines north, we would like some speedy and efficient lines south west.”
28 June 2011

John Bercow (Speaker, Buckingham)
“Irresponsible and should be rejected…unaffordable”..
“I can't promise I can get this reversed, but I can promise to do my level best.”
18 June 2010
Caroline Lucas (Green, Brighton Pavilion)
“The HS2 rail project is expensive, environmentally damaging, and badly thought through.”
4 March 2011
MPsOPPOSED – Conservative
Rt. Hon. Cheryl Gillan (Con, Chesham and Amersham) – Secretary of State for Wales
“I would defy the party whip – be very, very sure of that. My constituency comes first in all instances. The impact on the whole area would be absolutely phenomenal.”
20 November 2010 and many other occasions
Rt. Hon. David Liddington (Con, Aylesbury) – Minister of State, Foreign Office
“If it came down to it, I would vote against the route as proposed. I am personally against it.”
20 November 2010
Nick Hurd (Con, Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner) – Minister for Civil Society
“The project makes no sense if it is just about getting to Birmingham a little faster.”
25 July 2011
John Randall (Con, Uxbridge and South Ruislip) – Deputy Chief Whip
"HS2 is simply not the answer to improved rail services and economic growth.. There are other alternatives, which I believe have not been properly considered.”
25 July 2011
Michael Fabricant (Con, Lichfield) – Whip
“The more analysis I read on the subject, the more sceptical I become that HS2 – originally proposed by the Labour government – is the solution the coalition Government should be pursuing.”
14 July 2011
Jeremy Wright (Con, Kenilworth and Southam) – Whip
“I believe HS2 is defective in two areas – the business case and the preferred route. I am also concerned about the effect HS2 could have on the remainder of the rail network.”
4 July 2011
Andrea Leadsom (Con, South Northamptonshire)
"The case simply does not make economic sense…The more I get to know about it, the more against it I am."
21 July 2011
George Eustice (Con, Camborne and Redruth)
“A fortune is being spent to shave 20 minutes of the journey time from London to Birmingham when those of us who live at the end of the line in Cornwall have to travel for the best part of six hours.”
30 June 2011
Steve Baker (Con, Wycombe)
"The Government has honorable intentions for regeneration but I think this is the wrong project.”
26 March 2011
Dan Byles (Con, North Warwickshire)
“I will continue to work with local activists and councillors to campaign against this project, which I am firmly opposed to."
19 July 2011
Chris White (Con, Warwick and Leamington)
“In my opinion, HS2 fails…on affordability, effectiveness, and on providing value to the taxpayer – and I will continue to press for the Government to reconsider this project.”
30 March 2011
Christopher Pincher (Con, Tamworth)
“HS2 have so far failed to make the case for their plans. I cannot see that their business case stacks up nor do their mitigation plans come anywhere near dealing with the environmental impact of this railway. And no one is yet dealing with the question of blight which has already fallen on many homes and businesses simply by announcing the recommended route.”
28 February 2011
Sceptical/have concerns – MPs
Maria Eagle (Lab, Garston & Haleswood) – Shadow Transport Secretary
"Just as the prime minister said when he told the defence secretary that Trident couldn't be put in a special box marked untouchable and protected from tough spending decisions, neither can high-speed rail … His support for high-speed rail is a figleaf for the appalling impact the scale and speed of his cuts are having on the north. He can't expect a blank cheque from us when he is the one preaching the need for massive cuts."
10 December 2010
Alison Seabeck, (Lab, Plymouth Moor View)
[In an article regarding the negative impact HS2 is having on investment in South West train services]: "There's no doubt the South West has been starved of funds. It's something I have been campaigning on."
01 August 2011
Dominic Grieve(Con, Beaconsfield)
“I realise this is an extremely controversial project and I've already indicated my concerns about it and whether there's a good underlying business case.”
29 June 2011
Mark Field (Con, Cities of London & Westminster)
“I must confess that the underlying logic of HS2 has always been something of a mystery to me.”
12 July 2011
John Redwood (Con, Wokingham)
“This expensive and contentious new track.”
23December 2010
Iain Stewart (Con, Milton Keynes South)
“We can build High Speed 2, but not necessarily along the proposed route. The latest generation of Shinkansen bullet trains, which tilt, opens up the possibility of building lines alongside an existing transport corridor, such as the M1 or M40, which would mitigate much of the concern about environmental intrusion.”
13 July 2011
Andrew Tyrie (Con, Chichester)
“In our efforts to return to sustained growth, we need to make the best use of every pound invested in our public services. Another example of the need to make sure we have coherence in growth policy has been put to me by colleagues on both sides of the House. They have asked whether spending £17 billion on a high-speed rail link is better use of the money than investing in modern rolling stock and improving the existing tracks. I suspect that millions of rail commuters who cannot currently get a seat and whose trains are unreliable and relatively slow will be interested in the answer to that question.”
23 March 2011
Guto Bebb (Con, Aberconwy)
“On that point, I travel down by train from Chester or Runcorn simply because the North Wales Coast Railway line is so poor. How does the hon. Lady think that the economic case for north Wales will be improved by making the journey time to Manchester 1 hour 10 minutes rather than 1 hour 50 minutes, when north Wales will still be three-and-a-half hours away?”
13 July 2011
Tony Baldry (Con, Banbury)
“[HS2 is] likely to be to the disadvantage of other cities, such as Coventry.”
31 March 2011
Rehman Chishti (Con, Gillingham and Rainham)
“My constituency recently had High Speed 1, but then standard services were reduced and High Speed 1 fares went up by 30%. If we want more people to use high-speed rail, it has to be affordable, and we cannot have it at the expense of standard services.”
13 July 2011
Martin Vickers (Con, Cleethorpes)
“Cleethorpes and the area more generally is desperate for a direct route to London, and one worry is that HS2will suck up all investment resources. The minor infrastructure changes that would improve capacity on the east coast main line, and therefore provide capacity for a direct service to the Cleethorpes area, may be lost.”
13 July 2011
Several figures from the world of business and finance, including:
Lord Lawson of Blaby
Ruth Lea (Director, Arbuthnot Banking Group)
Lord Vinson (Former Director, Barclays Bank)
Lord Wolfson of Aspley Guise (Chief Executive, Next)
“An extremely expensive white elephant isn’t what the economy needs. There are better ways to encourage growth than getting each family to pay over £1,000 for a vanity project that we cannot afford.”
10 March 2011
The Green Party
"HS2 would produce more than twice the emissions of an intercity train.
HS2 is a ‘rich person's railway' - the business case assumes that a third of passengers will be on incomes of £70,000 or more.
Everyone knows the Greens [are] passionately committed to social justice and to the environment. The current HS2 proposals would serve neither."
26 February 2011
51M Group (16 local authorities opposed to HS2)
“We are opposed to the current High Speed rail proposals as they are presently outlined and do not believe that they are in the best interests of the UK as a whole in terms of the benefits claimed in the business case..”
Coventry City Council
“HS2 would relegate Coventry to little more than a backwater. We would end up with all of the disadvantages and none of benefits. I believe that a better solution is upgrading the current rail network. Development of HS2 would see the removal of the green belt and new developments could no longer be opposed on environmental grounds.”
Ealing Council (holding objection)
“There would appear to be significant impacts of the route within the Borough without anywhere near sufficient detail on how these will be mitigated.  There is also a lack of justification on what benefits the scheme will bring to Ealing, despite some of the greatest negative impacts occurring within the Borough.  Ideally, such a public consultation would have included the following documents to allow people to make an informed decision on the scheme.”
Institute for Economic Affairs
“There is a significant risk that High Speed 2 (HS2) will become the latest in a long series of government big-project disasters with higher-than-forecast costs and lower-than-forecast benefits. HS2 is not commercially viable and will require substantial and increasing levels of subsidy. Taxpayers will therefore bear a very high proportion of the financial risks, which are wholly under-represented in the Economic Case presented by the Department for Transport.”
19 July 2011
New Economics Foundation
“HS2 is no substitute for comprehensive regional investment and national sustainable transport strategies. The DfT have ignored all the evidence that shows high speed rail will likely result in higher carbon emissions, and poorer areas will still be on the outside looking in.”
09 August 2011
Adam Smith Institute
“The economic justification for HS2 is weak – very weak. Even assuming the aggressive passenger growth projections until 2033 of the project’s promoters, it is very difficult to see how a commercial return can be generated. After all, HS2’s projected capital costs per mile of Phase 1 greatly exceed that of other EU countries – the Financial Times has calculated a multiple of some 4x. And, of course, cost and time over-runs are very likely.”
12 April 2011
Conservative Transport Group
“It is clear that, in broadly adopting the [last] Labour Government’s proposals for HS2, the coalition has accepted a fundamentally flawed scheme that is the result of a similarly flawed brief.”
09 August 2011
The Taxpayer’s Alliance
“With so much pressure on the budgets of families and businesses, it is utterly indefensible that the Government is planning on spending such an incredible amount of money on this project.  There are more affordable ways of getting the capacity needed and a high speed line for the rich, on a route already served by very quick trains, can’t be the priority over giving ordinary families and firms across the country a better deal.  HS2 should be cancelled.”
28 February 2011
The Countryside Alliance
“At a time when we are seeing 20 per cent cuts to most Departmental budgets, the Alliance does not believe that HS2 is worth the billions being spent, or that it will bring the economic returns promised. We are not against high speed rail projects in general; we just do not believe that the current proposal offers significant benefits when compared to the human, environmental and economic costs that the countryside will have to bear.”
29 July 2011
RAC Foundation
“HS2 is a hugely expensive scheme which will benefit a minority of wealthy travellers while doing nothing to solve the dire transport problems faced by the majority of the population. If HS2 offered good value for money or significant environmental and economic benefits then perhaps a case could be made for it. Unfortunately it does neither. On all rational grounds it would be hard to make a case for HS2 even in the good times. In this age of austerity it is almost impossible to see why policy makers are giving such blinkered commitment to the project which fails even on the Government’s own recently revised decision for transport projects.”
Edmund King (President of the AA)
"If speed is not the over-riding factor then it seems that the Government is backing the wrong horse with HS2. This scheme will not provide best value for money. Spending the £34 billion cost on conventional rail upgrades, removing road bottlenecks, building bypasses and improving road maintenance would provide much better value for money."
04 August 2011
Christian Wolmar, Transport expert
“HS2 is what the French call a Grand Projet, a big idea, when, actually, a lot of little ones would serve us better, improving  the  railways  we already have. As taxpayers realise that this could be the biggest ever white elephant, opposition is bound to spread well beyond the Chilterns.”
13 March 2011
James and Oliver Phelps (Harry Potter actors)
“I am very ANTI HS2. Why not invest £32b into the lines already built. And not wreck our fantastic countryside.”
“I think it’s pretty easy to see now the police and other emergency services need better funding not cuts. We need order not a HS2.”
24 June 2011 & 10 August 2011
“Increased pressure to squeeze private profit from the infrastructure will result in even higher fares.”
29 June 2010
Institute for Engineering and Technology
“We believe we have uncovered a number of flaws in the proposals, some of which question the claim that HS2, as proposed, will reduce carbon emissions.
“The case for HS2 relies on a number of assumptions made within the proposal.  Some of these are flawed, for example not considering the effects of aerodynamic drag from environmental mitigation measures such as tunnels, which could lead to an increase in carbon emissions.”
29 July 2011
Caroline Pidgeon AM (Lib Dem) & London Assembly Transport Committee
“The current proposals for High Speed 2 fail to properly address the effects it would have on local communities and London’s existing transport network…one of the most critical issues is the absolute necessity of a new Tube line if HS2 goes ahead, so London can cope with the extra passengers it will bring into the capital.”
03 August 2011
East Midlands Councils
“Further work must be undertaken to develop and refine the business case for HS2 so that it fully reflects all the relevant costs and benefits..”
The National Trust
“The general principle of developing rail infrastructure over road and air is a good one, but surely not at any cost. Like many, we’re therefore yet to be convinced that the overall business case for HS2 stacks up environmentally, financially and socially. The rationale for the specific route will need detailed scrutiny, and we will need to understand how alternative routes were considered and why they were rejected.”
Campaign to Protect Rural England
“The current HS2 route would cause unacceptable damage to the beauty and tranquillity of much-loved countryside. The Government must consult properly and show that it is prepared to listen to legitimate concerns.”
07 April 2011
Friends of the Earth
“Carbon emissions from UK transport must be urgently cut – but the current High Speed Rail proposals will do little, if anything, to help.The majority of journeys are relatively short, so the Government’s top priority should be to cut emissions from these trips. This means action to encourage greener travel and measures to reduce the need to travel for work or essential services."
07 April 2011
Stephen Joseph, Campaign for Better Transport
“High speed rail needs to be part of a broader policy to reduce road and air traffic, with extra rail capacity to improve people’s travel choices and to get freight off the roads. Only if there is this broader policy can the full impacts of high speed rail be assessed properly.”
07 April 2011
George Monbiot, Guardian columnist
“What's not to like is that the case has not been made. The background data on which these claims are based isn't just sparse – in some cases it's non-existent. Where it does exist, it starkly contradicts other government figures. I wanted to be convinced, perhaps I still could be. But the Department for Transport's argument currently consists of several thousand pages of wishful thinking.”
17 May 2010
Civic Voice
“Major development projects like High Speed Rail can be intimidating for local communities and need to demonstrate a real sensitivity to the people and places they affect. People should have meaningful influence over key decisions – such as the design speed of the line – if we are to avoid unnecessary damage to intimate townscapes and landscapes and reap the benefits of investment in rail.”
07 April 2011
Environmental Law Foundation
“There is always a tipping point when major projects like High Speed 2 (HS2) become controversial and that is when people see that there is a lack of fairness in the decision making process. The Aarhus Convention requires the public to be consulted when all options are open and effective participation can take place. The public should be given the opportunity to participate on all aspects of the HS2 project and to have a real say on all the issues, both environmental and strategic. “
07 April 2011
Greenpeace UK
“Tackling transport emissions means an increase in rail capacity. High speed rail can only help if it’s in a proper policy framework which ensures people move from car and plane onto the train.”
07 April 2011
"A switch to rail is critical if our future transport system is going to be green and clean. But the environmental benefits won't materialise on their own. Government must demonstrate how High Speed 2 plans will respect nature, minimise damage to important wildlife sites, and help us in the fight against climate change."‪
07 April 2011
The Wildlife Trusts
“As it stands, HS2 is on track to deliver a damaged natural environment. We need efficient and sustainable transport systems but they must not be achieved at the expense of the environment. The proposed HS2 route will have a detrimental impact by dissecting and fragmenting the landscape and threatening important wildlife sites and undermining action to support nature’s recovery.”
07 April 2011
Woodland Trust
"Although we support moves towards green transport, the proposed route would destroy or irrevocably damage ancient woodland, the UK's richest wildlife habitat that is literally irreplaceable. Government plans to compensate by planting 2 million trees will not recompense this loss of our rarest habitats. Environmental impact should be valued equally with journey times and costs when assessing new transport options.”
07 April 2011
Chiltern Society
“The current HS2 proposals stem from a badly conceived and highly constrained remit, resulting in little regard being given to options that would avoid harming some of England’s finest landscapes. A wholly objective balancing between the wider economic benefits claimed for High Speed Rail and the impact of specific proposals on the environment cannot be achieved in the absence of a comprehensive framework of national transportation strategies that address broader future sustainability issues.”
07 April 2011
Edinburgh and Glasgow Councils
“We believe that the UK Government should further explore the opportunities to build a line from both London and Scotland and give a clear commitment to extending it to Scotland from the outset.Current proposals to run high speed services on existing track north of the border will not deliver the sub-3 hour journey time required to ensure maximum modal shift from air to rail and return on investment.”
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