A GREEN party councillor representing Stafford and Stone has slammed the plans for the controversial high speed railway HS2.
Councillor Tom Harris, of Stafford’s Forebridge ward, said there were three main reasons his party wanted the current £32billion proposals thrown out.
“Firstly, the economic case for HS2 is far from convincing,” he said. “HS2 is likely to be unaffordable for most people, even though everyone’s taxes will pay for it to be built.
“Just look at the disastrous Dutch ‘Frya’ high speed line, which opened only two years ago and is now losing £320,000 a day, with passengers shunning its premium fares and trains running up to 85 per cent empty.”
Councillor Harris said ‘bold claims’ about HS2 bringing growth failed to stand up to scrutiny.
“Birmingham, which has seen a 60 per cent rise in rail passengers over the last ten years, has seen only a 0.2% growth in employment,” he said. “Why not spend a fraction of the money by fitting carriages with fast wireless internet so people can make better use of their journey time?"
“Secondly, in an extraordinary waste of scarce resources, the proposed trains would burn 50% more energy per mile than the Eurostar,” he said. “And finally, the environmental and human impact of the current route would be devastating along its entire length, seeing beautiful countryside carved up and thousands of families’ lives ruined.”
Councillor Harris said he had heard from residents in Hopton whose homes were directly on the proposed line and that they were ‘at their wits end’.
“The government simply should not be proposing this madness,” he said.
He said, unlike the Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour Parties who all supported the plans, the Green Party was taking a clear line against them and detailed proposals to invest the money elsewhere in transport infrastructure.
“Our first priority is getting people about conveniently and affordably with local public transport schemes, as well as working on ways to improve air quality and reduce CO2 and particulate emissions, such as safe routes to school,” he said. “We think public transport should be re-regulated, with councils ensuring sensible levels of provision and a truly integrated system. HS2 will divert cash from local schemes for years and years.”