As everyone knows, I’ve been against the HS2 route through our area from day one.
HS2 Ltd has made a lot of mistakes, and people across the country who are affected need answers quickly.
The debate in parliament about the HS2 route, which I attended yesterday, showed that the concerns we have here in our area are also shared by MPs from lots of different areas and parties.
In the debate the Government was criticised for the amount of money spent on the project so far, the terrible engagement and consultation with people affected by the route, concerns about the engineering of the project, and dismay about why some areas have been offered tunnelling but others not.
Others raised big concerns about the environmental impact of this huge trainline. Round here, historic woodlands like Howell Woods and the heritage of the Iron Age camp near South Kirkby will be destroyed. I was shocked to hear just how many others have similar problems.
It is always moving to hear about the disruption of people's lives. During the debate we heard about how HS2 Ltd spent years being vague about their plans for the route, which has meant people weren’t able to plan for their futures. People have been unable to sell houses, have not been guaranteed compensation to move somewhere maintaining their quality of life, and have been ignored by HS2 Ltd when trying to get answers.
This struck a chord with me – HS2 Ltd have always been slow at getting back to us. They’ve not responded properly to Freedom of Information Requests from the Crofton Against HS2 campaign group or from residents either. And it has taken me months to get a meeting in the Minister’s diary to raise these concerns.
The compensation plans are just as bad. Kevin Barron, who is the MP for Rother Valley, spoke about how thousands of houses on a housing estate will be affected, but HS2 Ltd won’t acknowledge this, and won’t compensate them appropriately.
The debate also rose concerns about the gross underestimate of how many other people along the Rother Valley area that will have a train line right outside their windows.
Those living along the Meadowhall route have been prevented from selling their houses and many will not be able to access compensation at all for the disruption this has caused them over the past several years, even though HS2 isn’t proceeding with that route.
Paul Maynard MP, the Minister overseeing the HS2 project, said at the end of the debate that he will take the time to consider all of these concerns. I’m glad they’ve had a chance to be raised, and will demand answers when I have a meeting with him next week. I will provide another update after the meeting, and let you know how the Minister addresses all of these points for people from our patch.