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HS2 protesters say bill will cost billions more

Staffordshire | News | Published:

Campaigners fighting the multi-billion pound controversial high speed rail line have claimed that the cost of the project will keep going up.

Their fears were raised just days after it was revealed that an extra £10 billion will be pumped into the scheme, taking the total cost up to £43bn.

Around 700 protesters attended an anti-HS2 convention at the Staffordshire County Showground on Saturday.

At the event, Joe Rukin, who is the campaign manager for the Stop HS2 group, said the spiralling cost of HS2 was worrying.

He said: "This is going to keep going up and the benefits will keep going down. This project is doomed to fail."

Stafford MP Jeremy Lefroy said that despite the three main political parties voting in favour of a 'paving' bill on Wednesday, which will allow the Department for Transport to start preparation work on HS2, people in Staffordshire should not give up hope yet.

Speaking to the crowds, Mr Lefroy, who rebelled against the paving bill vote, said: "This is not just one campaign.

"This is several campaigns. A campaign to stop the ultra high speed line, one for mitigation and the compensation side of things.

"This is not nimbyism. Staffordshire is proud to be part of the national transport infrastructure.

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"It's very important to us but HS2 is unnecessary."

Meanwhile compensation campaigner, businessmen Trevor Forrester, drummed home the importance of people fighting for compensation.

He added: "You can have your trains but let's get the compensation right."

Mr Forrester is spearheading the fight which could see 100,000 households unite in taking HS2 Ltd, its directors, and the Government to the High Court over the high speed rail scheme.

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Jim Prinold wore a 'Marston Against HS2' T-shirt to the event. The 70-year-old lives at Sunny Hill Farm in Marston with his wife Mary, aged 68.

Initial proposals show the second phase of HS2, which will fork north to Leeds and Manchester, cuts through their land and buildings.

It means the family business of farming for the past 20 years would be destroyed.

Mr Prinold said: "My property is within 100 metres of this train line. We've spent our lives doing the farm up. I just don't want this high speed line. We'll continue fighting on."

Also at the event were campaign groups Stop HS2, AGAHST, HS2AA and 51m, and Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, the Woodland Trust and Stone MP Bill Cash.

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