Speaking to a packed hall of residents at the Kings Bromley Cricket Club on Friday 19th April, Michael Fabricant made his views known clearer than he has ever done before. “I cannot support HS2 as it is currently planned” Michael said “and if I cannot change it, I will have to try and stop it.
“The present route proposed by HS2 cuts a destructive swathe through previously unblemished countryside in the Lichfield constituency.
“It is an un-natural disaster facing rural Staffordshire.
“It is blighting the environment, blighting people’s homes, and blighting people’s lives.
“I am working hard with the Department of Transport, HS2 themselves, and pressure groups to get the route changed to use existing transport corridors as they do on continental Europe, like the M1 or M40, in order to minimise the environmental damage. But if after all these approaches we cannot get the route changed during the progress of the legislation, I shall have to oppose that legislation in Parliament” Michael told the packed audience.
“I do recognise the need for two extra north-south lines to relieve congestion on the existing West Coast Mainline; I know that pressure on existing lines can only increase as spiralling petrol prices drive people off the roads. I also know that the spare capacity freed-up by HS2 will eventually enable more direct fast train services from Lichfield Trent Valley. But none of this can be at the expense of the environment and people’s lives.”
Michael went on to explain the legislative procedure and that the ‘HS2 Hybrid Bill Committee’ will sit in a quasi judicial rôle taking evidence from petitioners along the route. “It is important that local residents and HS2 Action groups give evidence to the HS2 committee when it sits in 2014 and beyond” said Michael. “And we can take heart from the fact that a similar committee stopped Crossrail in its tracks and the legislation had to be rewritten.
“In the meantime, and in parallel with trying to change the route, I shall be organising a delegation of people from Whittington, Kings Bromley, and Armitage to see Government ministers in Whitehall to argue for funds to be made available to mitigate the environmental effect of the current HS2 route.
“I am also submitting formal proposals on the type and amount of compensation that should be paid to homeowners along the present route”. [See http://www.michael.fabricant.mp.co.uk/news-001054.ihtml A separate proposal is being submitted for Phase 2 of HS2 – from Kings Bromley northwards – by the end of April.
“These are still early days. The Queen will announce the plan for legislation in Her Speech to Parliament next month, but the Bill won’t be ready until the latter half of the year and then there will be a slow progress through Parliament taking at least a couple of years.
“I shall not give up on this battle to save South Staffordshire, but it will be tough” Michael warned the audience.
Michael then took questions on a range of issues including the timetable of construction, the likely costs of HS2, how local groups can try and campaign against the line, and what benefits it might offer Staffordshire.