02/Sep/2014 - Last News Update: 17:02

HS2 go-ahead sees mixed reaction

Category: England

Published: 10th Jan 2012 19:42:49

The government's approval of a £17bn high-speed rail link between London and Birmingham has been both strongly welcomed and fiercely criticised.

Here are some of the views from across England:

Linda and Ian Campbell have lived in Potter Row near Great Missenden in the Chilterns for more than 30 years and say their home is only 250 metres from the proposed HS2 link.

Mr Campbell said: "We fear the eight years of construction, which will involve massive quantities of soil being moved through our roads, will mean life will become intolerable for us.

"People live here because they love the peace and tranquillity, and that will be disturbed and disrupted.

"The likelihood is that our lives will be blighted until at least 2026 when the railway is finished and we won't be entitled to any compensation until then under the existing compensation code.

"If we wanted to move away who would buy our house now?"

Mike Whitby, leader of Conservative and Liberal Democrat-run Birmingham City Council, said: "The go-ahead for HS2 provides probably the single most important opportunity for economic growth in this region for generations.

"The benefits for Birmingham and the West Midlands are clear and unquestionable - job creation, increased productivity and greater investor appeal, all of which will ultimately bring direct benefits to families who live and work in the region.

"It's great news that we're taking advantage of this tremendous opportunity to invest for the future and build a 21st century high speed transport system which will link us more easily to the key markets and cities right across Europe."

Susan Willis and her family have lived in their home in Water Orton for 27 years.

"You can only assume that as it [the line] goes straight through our house, that our house will be demolished.

"It's absolutely devastating, it really is.

"You believe when you buy something that you own it, well believe you me, you don't because at any time it can come and be just taken off you and it has completely and utterly undermined our entire life to be honest.

"We've spent the past two years since we found out living in limbo, not knowing what's going to happen, not knowing what our future is and we've had the choice of whether or not we stay or move from this house taken away from us."

UKIP MEP Mike Nattrass said he would continue to be a "vocal opponent" of the HS2 scheme.

"This decision shows the government is out of touch with the views of the of people who have expressed strong and sensible opposition to this hugely expensive vanity project," he said.

"Many local authorities across the West Midlands are formally opposed to HS2 and they are correct. This is not about bringing travellers out of London, as the report pretends, but is only about commuting to London and supplying the capital with an extra airport.

"So HS2 will not just destroy our countryside but will see Birmingham turned into a London commuter city and its airport into the fourth London airport."

A spokesperson for Conservative mayor of London Boris Johnson said: "The mayor has always believed there was a case for investing in a high-speed rail network and he is pleased that the government has listened to the points he has made regarding its impact on the quality of life for thousands of residents in the capital.

"The voice of London is being heard but he will continue to press for the least possible disruption along the route, as well as make the case for greater improvements at Euston and for a solution to handle the extra numbers of people brought into the capital by HS2."

Warwickshire Wildlife Trust said it expected the HS2 link would cause "serious damage to wildlife and habitats" in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull.

The trust's research found the rail link between London and Birmingham could threaten about 160 wildlife sites and more than 40 ancient woodlands.

Stephen Trotter, the trust's chief executive, said: "It is vital that the impacts on wildlife are not overlooked yet again in this process.

"Warwickshire Wildlife Trust is committed to securing the best possible outcome for wildlife as HS2 is developed.

"The government must live up to its promises to protect the natural environment by committing the funds and resources to ensure full and proper compensation for the habitats and species which will be destroyed."

Mike Kerford-Byrne has lived in the village of Finmere, near Bicester in Oxfordshire, close to the border with Buckinghamshire, along with his wife Sandra, for almost 27 years.

He said his house would be 200 yards from the proposed HS2 link.

Mr Kerford-Byrne, 66, said: "There are 12 houses to the western edge of Finmere which will be dissected by the line. They will be uninhabitable. At least two of them are on the market.

"I'm not a nimby - I'm opposed because all the tangible evidence produced is that it is not going to be economically viable.

"By the time the bills start coming in I'll be dead but it'll cost my children and grandchildren."

"The collective property portfolio comprising our postcode is unlikely to rise much over the next few years," he added.

Conservative-run Cherwell District Council in Oxfordshire said it was "disappointed" at the HS2 announcement.

It had opposed the scheme, saying the business case was flawed and further rail capacity could be provided on parts of the existing network at far lower cost.

Councillor Michael Gibbard, Cherwell's lead member for planning, said: "We have always considered this project an enormous white elephant and are disappointed by today's decision.

"We are not giving up. This is an early stage in the decision-making and we will work with partners to consider a challenge."

Peter Wood, leader of Conserverative-led Ashford Borough Council, said the High Speed One (HS1) link had benefited the borough "substantially".

"When HS2 opens, Ashford passengers will be able to get to the Midlands in just under 90mins, compared to a near three-hour rail journey," he said.

"Ashford only stands to benefit from being so well connected to the rest of the country - we will have the unique position of having a town centre station with high speed links to London, the Midlands and mainland Europe [with Eurostar].

"While we appreciate concerns about the rise in rail fares across the country, which are regrettably beyond our control, reaction to the quality of service from passengers in Ashford remains almost universally positive."

Chris Hill who is a commuter on High Speed One (HS1) between Kent and London St Pancras said that route was not worth the cost.

Mr Hill, who pays more than £3,700 for his season ticket on the classic service from Sittingbourne, Kent, said: "To accommodate the extra services it has congested the lines and to make way for it they have reduced classic services which has caused overcrowding. We are now left with overcrowded services.

"We subsidise it through our tickets, we subsidise it as a taxpayer and now we are subsidising it with increased journey times."

Paul Kehoe, chief executive of Birmingham Airport, called the HS2 decision "great news" for the region.

"Other countries, such as Germany, have a 'multi-hub' airport model - they link their major airports with high-speed rail, and spread the economic activity. They do not stick to the old-fashioned model of just one major airport," he said.

"With the UK government's aspiration to re-balance the economy, Birmingham and other airports will benefit from HS2, whilst taking the pressure off the South East and creating jobs for many thousands of people.

"Birmingham Airport station will be the hub of the high-speed network - placing Birmingham Airport less than an hour from the great majority of the UK population."

London's Camden Council said it was "dismayed" the government had not listened to its objections to the HS2 scheme which would mean hundreds of people losing their homes and 40 businesses having to relocate.

The Labour-run council said more than 216 homes in Camden would be demolished, a further 264 would be at risk of demolition and a school "significantly impacted" to accommodate the plans.

Deputy council leader Sue Vincent said: "I am dismayed that at a time of economic crisis, it is simply incomprehensible to spend billions of pounds in a project of folly that takes away people's homes, schools and businesses.

"Construction work in Camden will bring a damming blight for almost a decade once the dust has finally settled."

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BBC News, 2012. HS2 go-ahead sees mixed reaction [Online] (Updated 10th Jan 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/216737/HS2-go-ahead-sees-mixed-reaction [Accessed 2nd Sep 2014]

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