WEST Midlands Friends of the Earth has lambasted the Government’s decision to go ahead with HS2, saying it was a costly and damaging mistake which would threaten wildlife, destroy ancient woodlands and do nothing to reduce climate-wrecking pollution.
On top of the environmental damage, since the plans were revealed and costed they have spiralled out of control with some predicting it could cost up to £106billion.
In addition to that, many northern commentators have said they would rather see improvements made going from east to west, rather than having time shaved off the journey from north to south.
Campaigner Chris Crean said: ““Anyone who has tried to take public transport recently can tell you why building HS2 is completely the wrong decision.
“The estimated £100 billion earmarked for this project would be better spent fixing the dilapidated commuter rail network and funding other initiatives to encourage people out of their cars.
“The Government’s £5 billion sweetener on bus and cycling infrastructure is a nod in the right direction but falls way short of the investment required to build the low carbon transport infrastructure that the climate crisis demands.”
Chancellor and Bromsgrove MP Sajid Javid said: “Communities across our country are being held back by inadequate infrastructure.
“Better transport links won’t just boost capacity cut down your commute – they’ll stimulate local economies, create jobs and reduce pollution by getting cars off the road.
“That’s why, after careful consideration and on the condition of significant reform to its management, the Government has decided to proceed with HS2.
“HS2 will become the spine of our national transport network, shifting the country’s centre of gravity away from the capital and rebalancing opportunity fairly across the country.”
He added HS2 would be a ‘game changer’ putting the region at the heart of the country’s transport system and helping to drive success for generations to come.
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said he was delighted the Prime Minister had given the go-ahead for HS2 as the region could ‘reap the considerable benefits from what was a once-in-a-generation infrastructure project’.
“I want to see the next phase of construction works get started immediately for the Birmingham to London link, with progress made on the lines to Manchester and Leeds as soon as possible.”
He echoed Mr Javid’s view it would free up vital capacity on the local rail network meaning more reliable and frequent commuter services could be run.
He said HSBC UK moved its headquarters to Birmingham after the original announcement and he felt more big name companies would follow.
But he said savings needed to be found by Boris Johnson to bring down the overall cost of HS2.
* WHAT do you think? Do you welcome the green signal for HS2? Maybe you think the loss of ancient green areas is too high a price to pay or the £106billion could be spent on more useful transport projects? Email your views at firstname.lastname@example.org