Calls by an MP for an independent review into the case for HS2 has been adopted by Government and a decision on whether to stop or carry on with the costly scheme will be made by the end of the year.
Esther McVey said too much money has been thrown at HS2 and no real case for it has been made. Since her election she called for an independent review into the project and as recently as last month, said the money would be better spent on local transport links.
Today Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed a review is underway and its findings will “allow the government to make properly-informed decisions on whether and how we proceed with HS2.”
Ms McVey said: “I have always maintained that the case for HS2 has never been fully made and the geographic complexity of Cheshire has not been considered in the design or the costings for the line. This is why I have lobbied since 2017 for an Independent Review of the project and I am pleased this is now going ahead.
“I meet with and hear from constituents on a weekly basis about HS2 and I do not believe they are being treated fairly. Many are going through property acquisition but are still being kept in the dark and not fully informed. Others are concerned how the proposals will impact the area and I will be speaking to colleagues at the Department for Transport about the review to ensure their concerns, and the significant impact such a scheme would have for Cheshire is fully heard and understood.”
The independent review will be headed by Douglas Oakervee, a civil engineer and former chair of HS2 Ltd, whose career spans nearly 60 years. It will look at all evidence, consider its benefits and impacts, affordability and efficiency, deliverability also the scope and phasing including its relationship with Northern Powerhouse Rail.
Ms McVey added: “What I want to see is better infrastructure in our area and local transport links. I believe the case for HS2 has not been made and it leaves too many questions unanswered and therefore this independent review is necessary. At the last consultation it was suggested that they are putting in provision for a line from Manchester to Liverpool, a bridge and junctions, which seems like at some point the line will extend and blight more Cheshire residents, creating further uncertainty. People cannot be treated like this.”
Mr Oakervee will be supported by Labour peer Lord Berkeley as his deputy and they will have a panel of experts who will each have a say in the report’s conclusions.
A final report will be sent to the DfT later this year.