In a debate in Westminster Hall in Parliament yesterday, MP Andrea Leadsom called for the Government to urgently commit to a full review of the business case for HS2 before the Notice to Proceed is granted later this year.
It was the first debate she has led since returning to the backbenches after stepping down as Leader of the Commons, the MP felt it was important that HS2 was one of the first issues she raised in Parliament on behalf of her constituents, and wanted to put on record her strong concerns about the business case and value for taxpayer money.
Mrs Leadsom said: "
“There is no doubt that investment in infrastructure is the key to solving the UK’s productivity challenge, and we have to see investment that benefits our entire United Kingdom.
“Getting the best value for money has to be at the heart of all that we do, and it is vital that we make sure we are investing in the right infrastructure projects.
“HS2 is one of the single biggest concerns for my constituents, and over the years it has become clear there are significant questions about value for money for the taxpayer.
“I’m calling on the Government to carry out a full reassessment of the business case for HS2.”
In the Commons speech, which runs to 12 pages, the South Northamptonshire MP also said: "I first became aware of HS2 when it was proposed in 2009 by the then Labour government.
"Investment in infrastructure, creating jobs and growth, improving travel times between our major cities, and closing the north-south divide; all of these were put forward as reasons in favour of the UK’s second high speed train line.
"However, these supposed benefits unravelled one by one, and it quickly became apparent that HS2 is not the right infrastructure project, is not going to improve the point-to-point travel times, will not close the north-south divide, and will create jobs, yes, but at an eye-wateringly expensive rate, far beyond what you would expect from a similar project.
She added: "Those of us who raised concerns about the project, even while it was still under consultation, were dismissed by others as NIMBYs, and told we were flat wrong about the wider benefits that HS2 will bring to the North. I was and am willing to be proved wrong.
"With the delay to the Notice to Proceed, growing concerns over the project’s spiralling costs, ongoing engineering and design difficulties, and even now the rumours that the line past Birmingham may never be built, it’s high time that the project was thoroughly reviewed to make sure it will actually deliver for taxpayers."
The first phase of the project, London to Birmingham, is not expected to see its first passengers until 2026, with phase 2, Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds not expected to be fully operational until 2033.