HS2 Petition Debate
Yesterday there was a debate on High Speed 2. Unfortunately the debate was oversubscribed and I was unable to speak.
If I had spoken in the debate, here is what I would have said.
People in my area have been some of the loudest voices in the campaign against HS2. I am proud that they have stood up for our community, to protect peoples’ homes, local businesses and our beautiful wildlife.
But right from the beginning of this process their voices have been ignored.
My constituents are not opposed to new infrastructure in our area. Our region desperately needs targeted infrastructure spending to increase local connectivity.
But HS2 goes about this in the wrong way. It is infrastructure designed to benefit people working in London, with people in the North having to deal with the consequences.
The route through my constituency will hit hundreds of households but will not benefit them in any way because the closest HS2 station will be in Leeds.
The environmental impact is significant - the route goes through an area of natural beauty and other green land. This obviously has consequences for our wildlife.
Peoples’ homes knocked down, ancient woodlands destroyed. This is a high price to pay so that a small number of people can get to London 20 minutes quicker.
What’s more important: shortening the train journey to London, or building local transport connections across the region and beyond?
HS2 is about prioritising the former, whilst doing very little to improve the latter.
We used to have local railway stations in my area, but over the years they have been closed down.
I want to see new railway lines that enable local people to get around. We currently have terrible connectivity between different parts of the north. The priority should be to address this problem that is holding the north back.
I also have serious concerns about the value for money of HS2. The cost of HS2 has quadrupled since 2012. CEO pay at HS2 is one of the highest in the public sector. It has all the hallmarks of a gravy train for developers and execs.
You can’t impose HS2 on people against their will. It has to happen with the consent of local people.
Let me be clear. HS2 does not have the consent of my constituents.
I call on the government to think again about the route for HS2 through my area. I will continue to raise my voice on behalf of my constituents, whatever decision is made.