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September 2011
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HS2: we’ve won the battle not the war
By Kathryn Gurney and Tim Hart

Summer is always a busy time in The Lee, but this year even more so. 29th July was the final day of the consultation on HS2. That date will have been hard to miss if you live in The Lee or surrounding villages.

Thank you to all those who have been so willing to give time, effort and support to the local campaign against HS2 and of course to all for completing the consultation and getting family and friends to do so as well. HS2 were slow in sending out the consultation forms in bulk and by the time they arrived we had got 700 printed locally, which all got distributed. In addition to individual responses, submissions were also made by local bodies including the Parish Council, the Parochial Church Council and The Old Church Trust.

A particular word of thanks to those who have delivered leaflets, knocked on doors, e-mailed, phoned, manned stalls and workshops, fêtes and fairs – in order to ensure that anyone locally with questions or who wished for help in responding to the consultation had somewhere to go.

In spite of their best efforts, those promoting HS2 were unable to galvanise enough support to over-ride those who said “No” in the consultation. The press reported that over 40,000 responses were received, with the majority being against the proposals. Concerns were raised on economic grounds from organisations including the Institute for Economic Affairs, the Taxpayers’ Alliance and others, and on environmental grounds from bodies ranging from the National Trust to the Green party and beyond. In recent days even the Conservative Transport Group has criticised plans for HS2. No broadsheet newspaper has yet come out in support of them.

Yet, as we know, the consultation was not a referendum. And whilst the opposition to HS2 may have won the arguments, it remains to be seen if they have won the politics. We will all have to wait until the end of the year to find out.

In the meantime, the campaign will continue and we must do what we can to keep the pressure up. It is important that MPs continue to be told that spending upwards of £32bn on HS2 is not seen as a priority in the current climate. There are bound to be more petitions to sign, polls to respond to and consultations to take part in. This campaign is set to run and we all hope that having had a chance to recharge batteries we will all be up for the battle – for however long it is set to rage.

We are grateful to all who have contributed to campaign funds, which were boosted by the hog roast event in June. We continue to support financially the national campaign which will have a presence at the party conferences in the autumn.

The next meeting of the Chiltern Ridges HS2 Action Group will be on Thursday 1st September at 7:45 pm at The Lee Parish Hall and anyone willing to help is welcome to attend.
 

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