Call for HS2 money to be spent on flood defence

Artist's impression of HS2 viaduct
Artist's impression of HS2 viaduct

An Aylesbury man has started an online petition calling on the government to scrap HS2 and use the money on flood prevention.

Erik Grimley is calling on some of the £50bn due to be spent on the controversial rail line through Bucks to instead be spent on properly maintaining drainage and ditch systems.

You can view the petition here.

Mr Grimley said: “BBC’s Countryfile claimed £4 million is meant to be spent on clearing ditches each year to help drainage of which only £1 million is spent, yet the government want to ruin the countryside and spend £50 billion on a train that they think will increase the economy and only cuts journey time by 30-50 minutes. I say they should bin their train-set idea and spend it on something that will benefit the whole country.

“Stop HS2 and improve the UK’s drainage and ditch systems!”

MPs have also called for money to be diverted away from HS2 and spent on infrastructure on the south-west, which has been devastated by the floods, including the damage to its trainline.

Liberal Democrat MP for Torbay, Adrian Sanders, said: “Something like 10 miles of HS2 could shore up the Dawlish line properly for the next 50 years and electrify a large part of the Taunton and Exeter line to offer a faster route into London.”

Labour MP for Plymouth, Alison Seabeck, argued that the south-west had been ‘overlooked’ and called for HS2’s funding to be reviewed.

He added that he would not back HS2 until ‘significant investment’ had been committed to improving the south-west rail infrastructure.

Conservative Cheryl Gillian, whose Chesham and Amersham constituency is on the HS2 route, added: “My priorities would be modernising and making the most of existing transport corridors.

“The popular and brave thing to do would be to pull HS2 at this stage and look at regional transport solutions.”

Mrs Gillian also tabled a question to parliament asking whether areas close to where HS2 is proposed had been flooded recently.

Minister Dan Rogerson responded that from ‘information currently available it does not appear that the safeguarded area for HS2 has been significantly flooded during the last two months’.

However, he added that HS2 crosses more than 100 watercourses, ‘each of which will have a degree of flood risk associated with them’.

“The scale of that risk will depend on the precise alignment of the route. At present this has not been fully assessed, nor has an assessment been made for the phase two routes.”