Nearly three years after people in the Vale learnt the devastating route of HS2, those living in the north found out if the rail line would plough through their town or village.
Detailed plans for HS2’s Y-shaped extension to Manchester and Leeds were revealed by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who claimed the line would bridge the north south divide.
Just like in the Vale in March 2010, the new plans were met with dismay by those living near the proposed line. A Nottingham group described them as ‘environmentally catastrophic’.
Dr Richard Wellings, head of transport at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said: “The government is deluded if it thinks HS2 will regenerate the north. The region’s long-term economic problems will not be solved by faster rail links to London.
“Towns such as Doncaster already enjoy fast links, but remain among the poorest places in the country. Indeed, HS2 will be used as an excuse to waste billions more on flawed regeneration schemes in northern cities, at further expense to taxpayers.”
The Y shaped extension will travel northwards to Manchester and Leeds from Birmingham and is scheduled to be completed in 2032, six years after the first phase.
Mr Clegg said: “We can’t keep turning a blind eye to the north-south divide in our economy. That is what this high-speed project is all about.”
But Penny Gaines, of Quainton, chair of Stop HS2 said HS2 could create an even more London-centric economy with people from the north commuting to jobs in the south.
She said: “Again and again with HS2, we’ve heard talk of ‘connectivity’, but what it really means is connectivity with London. #
“HS2 is a London-centric proposal that seems focused on extending the London commuter belt beyond Birmingham, when we need to create an engine for growth in the north, providing access to jobs for people who want to live and work in the north.
“Proponents of HS2 don’t seem to realise that people can already live anywhere in the UK and telecommute to anywhere else in the world, and before HS2 is due to open, this will be even easier.”
Martin Tett (pictured), leader of Buckinghamshire County Council and chairman of the 51m group of 18 councils fighting against HS2, said: “We agree with the Prime Minister that what this country needs is investment and growth in our infrastructure but we need it now, not in 2033. Behind the ‘spin’ the reality is that the business case for HS2 has collapsed, the capacity argument has been exposed in the High Court and the economic benefits are not supported by any serious economists.
“HS2 will cost taxpayers an eye watering £33bn, equivalent to the country’s entire defence budget, and yet has been shown conclusively to be poor value for money.
“There are far better, quicker and cheaper ways of upgrading our existing rail network to provide the capacity needed.
“These would free up capital to invest in regional road and rail infrastructure projects that people actually need and use around the whole country. This would bring growth and jobs now when they are needed”.
“A major concern that we have is that many towns and cities will be shocked to discover that they will actually receive a poorer train service if HS2 is built.
“Stations such as Toton Sidings and Meadowhall are far from city centres. West Coast Main Line and Midland Main Line services to many existing stations are certain to be reduced.
“At the same time HS2 will blight the lives, property and businesses of tens of thousands of people. Houses will be unsaleable and jobs lost across the Midlands and elsewhere. Only those directly on the route will receive compensation. Those nearby will have to wait until 2034 at the earliest to see if they get anything”.