BCC UNITED AGAINST HS2
Buckinghamshire county councillors took a united stand yesterday (Thursday July 21) on their response to the government against High Speed 2, the proposed £32bn high speed railway that would cut a swathe through the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Leader Martin Tett said that while the council was not opposed to the need for higher speed rail per se, and acknowledged the need for strategic improvement to the rail network, it could not agree with the current proposals as the economic and environmental benefits were not at all credible.
'We 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,' said Mr Tett, who called on the council to send a clear message of unity and determination.
'The business case rests on the premise that every minute spent on a train is wasted. With mobile phones and laptops we know that time spent on trains can be very profitable,' said Mr Tett.
'Is the green and sustainability case well founded? Have reasonable alternatives been examined? Does this stand the test of being in the national interest? On all these the government have been found wanting.'
Lesley Clarke (Abbey) who seconded Mr Tett's proposal, pointed to a legacy of losses with High Speed 1, the Channel Tunnel rail line, and questioned the benefit local communities would get from HS2. 'Just think what £32bn could do for our infrastructure nationally!' she said.
The government’s public consultation on proposals for HS2 ends on Friday July 29. Mr Tett said: 'We're sending a clear message that we are united, we are determined, and we will win on behalf of the residents of Buckinghamshire.'
The county council, and its district council partners have consistently opposed HS2. Buckinghamshire councils were founding members of 51m, the alliance of 15 councils that submitted evidence to last week's Transport Select Committee inquiry into high speed rail.