South Northants MP Andrea Leadsom has called for a halt to work on HS2 in the countryside until a new review is completed.
Mrs Leadsom has today (Thursday) written to the Chief Executive of HS2 Ltd on behalf of her constituents who are calling on him to pause HS2 enabling works in the county pending the outcome of the Oakervee Review this autumn.
Earlier this month, Andrea warmly welcomed the announcement that the Government had tasked Doug Oakervee, the former Chairman of HS2, to conduct a full independent review of the project before the Notice to Proceed was due to be granted later this year.
This followed the last debate in Parliament on the business case for HS2 which was held by Mrs Leadsom in July. At the time, she highlighted ongoing concerns about value-for-money and whether HS2 was still on time and on budget.
Mrs Leadsom said: "Many constituents have been in touch with me since the review was announced, and have asked for the ongoing enabling works to be paused subject to the final recommendations by Doug Oakervee.
"These calls have intensified following the recent comments from the current Chairman of HS2 Ltd, Allan Cook, that he does not believe that the current scheme design can be delivered within the budget of £55.7 billion, nor on time by 2026 for Phase One.
“My constituents have told me that, if the cost for the project is now estimated by the Chairman of HS2 Ltd to be equivalent to possibly £90 billion in 2019 prices and if Phase One may be delayed until the 2030s, the business case for the project has been fundamentally undermined.
“Whilst we wait for the Oakervee Review to conclude, my constituents have asked me to press for enabling works to be put on hold to prevent possibly unnecessary disruption to the surrounding countryside.
“I have written to the Chief Executive of HS2 Ltd, Mark Thurston, to make this request on their behalf.”
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps left questions over the future of the HS2 project in his statement on the forthcoming independent inquiry, reported in the Banbury Guardian earlier this week.