Greatworth hopeful parish council coalition will help to stop HS2

HS2 will provide a high-speed rail link between London and Birmingham
HS2 will provide a high-speed rail link between London and Birmingham

A parish council chairman hopes her anti-HS2 letter supported by 49 others affected by the scheme will encourage the government to scrap it.

Greatworth and Halse Parish Council has received more support since sending its letter denouncing the ‘white elephant’ to South Northamptonshire MP Andrea Leadsom.

Council chairman Veronica Ward is waiting for a reply from senior politicians, including the prime minister, and believes it is ‘now or never’ to stop the scheme.

“I thought when I wrote it back in February that if we can get 50 parish councils to support us it would be incredible and we got 50 on Tuesday so it’s gone really well,” she said.

Ms Ward wrote to every parish council on or near the proposed route of HS2 and slowly the support came in.

In Banburyshire, Brackley, Farthinghoe, Helmdon, Evenley, Wormleighton, Aston le Walls, Chipping Warden and Edgcote, Culworth, Thorpe Mandeville, Radstone, Turweston, Mixbury, Thenford, Hinton-in-the-Hedges, King’s Sutton and Aynho parish councils have backed the letter.

Ms Ward said some parish councils have felt unable to support it having been promised money from the government as part of the project.

“I hope the letter will have some effect, I’ve been told it won’t but who knows,” she said.

Greatworth was described in the House of Commons as one of the worst affected villages on the HS2 route.

The parish council felt compelled to act in the hope it can avoid its communities becoming collateral damage for the project.

The letter says from the day, nine years ago, when a straight line was drawn across England, obliterating anything in its path, in order to accommodate this ‘high speed’ wonder, parishes have seen the farcical project lurch from one failure to another yet preliminary work continues.

It added that local observation had shown a total disregard for cost control, a complete lack of common sense, utter disrespect of the fragile rural environment and some may say, contempt for the needs of the local population.

The letter highlights the issues of a ballooning budget – phase one of HS2 was due to cost £27.18bn, current estimates put it at £50bn and rising – and how in order to regain control, this may mean slower and less frequent trains, no build beyond Birmingham and trains that may stop at Old Oak Common rather than Euston.

The letter states: “The source of the considerable amount of electricity needed to power the HS2 trains has long been questioned.

“The latest possible, unbelievable, answer to this problem at such a late stage is wind turbines and solar panels along the route.

“More land acquisition and much, much more cost, both financial and environmental. There was no mention in the EA of wind turbines powering the trains.

“Therefore when parliament gave the go ahead for HS2, there was no knowledge of this huge environmental impact to wildlife and the countryside.”

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “HS2 is happening now, backed by cross-party support, business and regional leaders.

“The project is a massive investment in the North and Midlands that will deliver much-needed capacity and more frequent services, improving connections and unlocking opportunities for economic growth.”