Government rejects Buckinghamshire County Council's request to stop HS2

HS2 (Inset: Chris Grayling)
HS2 (Inset: Chris Grayling)

The Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, has rejected Buckinghamshire County Council's (BCC) request that HS2 enabling works cease until Notice to Proceed is given.

The Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, has rejected Buckinghamshire County Council's (BCC) request that HS2 enabling works cease until Notice to Proceed is given.

In his response letter Mr Grayling says:

“I must be clear that I do not intend to halt work on HS2 in Buckinghamshire or elsewhere. Completing HS2 is Government policy and has been supported by both sides of the House.”

On the 25 April, BCC unanimously passed a motion for leader Martin Tett to write to the Government formally making the request. The motion states:

“This council proposes that the leader should write to Government to request that all enabling works for HS2 in Buckinghamshire should be paused until the notice to proceed to main works contractors has been approved.”

It continues:

"We see no reason why the county should suffer significant disruption and long term environmental destruction until detailed design and cost has been approved.”

Also in his letter of reply, the Cabinet member wrote:

“I fully support HS2 Ltd's commitments to both the environment and the local communities affected.

We are aiming for HS2 to be one of the most environmentally responsible infrastructure projects ever delivered in the UK, and managing its impact on the environment is a high priority.”

Perhaps unintentionally however, the Transport Secretary's pushback does appear to acknowledge the basis of BCC's original request when he states:

“The site clearance works that are taking place are necessary to enable the construction of HS2 to proceed in accordance with the programme, following Notice to Proceed.”

In March this year, ministers delayed signing off on the first half of spending for HS2, which runs from London to The Midlands, until December due to concerns over spiralling costs.

HS2 are building 345 miles of new high-speed track which will connect the city centres of London, Birmingham, Manchester, and Leeds.

Work is just starting to get underway and will be completed in 2033. Though the cost was originally projected to be £32.7bn in 2010, the Government now estimates it to be £56bn.