Controversy over HS2 ‘blank cheque’ bill as government’s plans outlined in Queen’s Speech

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HS2 legislation will be introduced in Parliament within a year, it has been announced in the Queen’s speech.

Laying out the Government’s plans for the next Parliamentary session, Her Majesty today said the legislation would be brought in to help economic growth.

MHBG-30-09-10 HS2 Protest'Pictured - Protesters

MHBG-30-09-10 HS2 Protest'Pictured - Protesters

She said in her annual speech: “My government will continue to invest in infrastructure to deliver jobs and growth for the economy.

“Legislation will be introduced to enable the building of the High Speed Two railway line, providing further opportunities for economic growth in many of Britain’s cities.”

The move will see the introduction of a hybrid bill, covering everything required to allow phase one – the route from London to Birmingham which cuts through the Vale – of the project to be built.

An additional paving bill will allow money to be spent on the project which would not normally be available until Royal Assent was gained for the hybrid bill, which can take a long time.

HS2

HS2

Opponents say the paving bill shows a ‘complete disregard to both due process and budgetary control’ and allows the Government to write a blank cheque for the project.

Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin said: “They are simply trying to avoid the scrutiny a hybrid bill would put the project under and get a quick vote while most MPs are sill seduced by the fact high speed rail sounds like a good idea, without understanding any of the reasons why it would be a disaster for the country.”

Penny Gaines, Stop HS2 chairwoman, said there are concerns the paving bill would give HS2 Ltd additional powers to access land and conduct surveys.

She said: “The paving bill is an acknowledgement from the Department for Transport that HS2 is over budget already, before they’ve even finished drawing up the plans.

“It’s clear that HS2 Ltd have been overambitious and reckless with taxpayer’s money.

“We are particularly concerned about speculation that the paving bill may give powers to HS2 Ltd to go onto people’s property without needing their consent.

“There have been a huge numbers of issues around HS2 surveys and the difficulty individual property owners have to get independent advice.

“HS2 Ltd employees consistently failed to act sensitively towards people who will lose their homes and businesses as a result of the HS2 plans.

“With extra legal powers to override the concerns of individuals, this arrogance from HS2 Ltd staff is only likely to increase.”

UKIP Councillor Chris Adams, who last week was one of six UKIP candidates to win seats on Bucks County Council, said: “In last week’s council elections we showed clearly that UKIP won directly down the HS2 line, starting with Great Missenden.

“Today’s HS2 paving bill announcement in the Queen’s speech has been forced on the government because Mr Cameron’s vanity project is behind schedule and over budget.

“Meanwhile tens of thousands of local people are living with the terrible consequences of Conservative pig-headedness on this issue.

“The human cost can be measured in homes that cannot be sold, businesses that fear for their future and communities wondering what they have done to deserve such contemptuous treatment from ‘their’ government.

“It’s now time for our local MPs including the Minister for Europe David Lidington to confirm that they will be voting against the paving bill. After three long years, today Mr Lidington needs to confirm that he will be putting his constituency and not Conservative Party career first.”

The Department for Transport says HS2 will be ‘the most significant transport infrastructure project since the building of the motorways’ and will boost the economy.