The media is reporting some MPs have backed a petition to scrap HS2 ahead of a Parliamentary debate in September, that the Stop HS2 campaign reports was set up by Chris Packham.
HS2 will go before Parliament following a petition which, before it was closed, reached 155,250 signatures – the threshold for a debate being 100,000. The topic will be put to MPs on 13 September.
The petition, still on the UK Government website, reads: “We ask Parliament to repeal the High Speed Rail Bills, 2016 and 2019, as MPs voted on misleading environmental, financial and timetable information provided by the Dept of Transport and HS2 Ltd. It fails to address the conditions of the Paris Accord and costs have risen from £56bn to over £100bn.
“Our environment and economy are in peril. HS2 is destroying nature and inflicting suffering on businesses and property owners. Government is investing in an inept and recklessly run project, offering poor value for money. HS2 will not reach Net Zero by 2050 nor help us level up the North. The pandemic has changed how we work forever and invalidated the business case. Given the climate emergencies we face, and now the economic and pandemic crises – Parliament must vote to repeal the legislation.”
Some news media report a number of MPs back the petition. MailOnline has a quote from Esther McVey MP, the former Minister of State for Housing and Planning, describing HS2 as a “white elephant”, and a headline from The Telegraph reads “Put HS2 ‘out of its misery’, senior Tories to urge ministers”.
The UK Government has posted a 707-word reply from the DfT on the petition page, saying: “This railway is a long-term investment which will bring our biggest cities closer together, boost productivity and provide a low-carbon alternative to cars and planes for many decades to come. During construction, we want HS2 to be the most environmentally responsible major infrastructure project in UK history.”
The reply added there was a “commitment to greater transparency” on HS2, with bi-annual reports made to Parliament. It also said measures had been put in place to protect the environment and mitigate effects of the project on it, and that compensation schemes have a “renewed focus” on those impacted.
“For the reasons set out above, the government has no plans to repeal any legislation relating to the development and delivery of HS2,” the statement said in its conclusion. “However, we will continue to welcome further public and parliamentary scrutiny of the project.”
The government’s response can be read in full here.