MPs press for HS2 work to be scrapped

Victoria Prentis MP wants work on HS2 line to be halted NNL-160305-105903001
Victoria Prentis MP wants work on HS2 line to be halted NNL-160305-105903001

Banburyshire MPs Victoria Prentis and Andrea Leadsom are using constituents’ concerns to call for HS2 preparatory work to be stopped.

Both have stated their cases to the chief of HS2, Mark Thurston ahead of a review into the viability of the project to be conducted by Douglas Oakervee for the Government.

The high speed rail project, which would cut across the north east of Banburyshire in south Northamptonshire, is significantly over budget and behind schedule with the full line, now tipped to open as late as 2040, costing some £88bn.

Both MPs have written to Mr Thurston calling for a halt to all preparation work in the Banbury constituency.

Both are long-time campaigners against HS2. Mrs Prentis said any possible claim to a business case has now collapsed.

In her letter she said: “It is clear to me and many of my constituents that the business case for the project has fallen away.

“I was delighted with the announcement last month of the Oakervee Review. Given the real possibility that HS2 could be radically changed or cancelled, any enabling work in north Oxfordshire should be postponed until the review has delivered its findings.

“The work could cause potentially unnecessary and irreversible damage to habitats, farm land and ancient woodland in north Oxfordshire as well as my constituents’ livelihoods,” she said.

As part of the Oakervee Review Mrs Prentis will be submitting evidence, highlighting her constituents’ concerns and to detail why the project should be cancelled.

Northants MP Andrea Leadsom has also called for a halt to work on HS2 until the review is completed.

Mrs Leadsom said: “Many constituents have been in touch with me since the review was announced and have asked for the enabling works to be paused subject to the final recommendations.

“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.

“If the cost for the project is now estimated to be 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.”