Plans to continue with the construction of the £55.7 billion high-speed rail link between London and the West Midlands has been voted less popular than maintaining the pensions triple lock and spending £350 million a week extra on the NHS.
A survey of Tory members by website Conservative Home asked for opinions on policies which could form part of the Conservative Party manifesto heading into the General Election on June 8. The results showed that HS2 is the least favourite policy amongst Conservative Party members, with it coming rock bottom of the list – ranking 34th out of 34.
A total of 1,469 party members responded to the survey and were asked to give the policies a ranking from 1-10, with ‘continuing with HS2’ averaging 2.96, just squeezing out ‘spending at least 0.7 per cent of GNP on overseas aid’ on 2.97 for last place.
The survey showed overall support for the other infrastructure projects mentioned in the survey, and the specific suggestion of ‘spending £100bn on infrastructure during the coming Parliament’ received a positive score of 5.82.
Stop HS2 campaign manager Joe Rukin said: “Over the years, public opposition to HS2 has increased showing that the public have not been conned by the HS2 spin, and this survey firmly shows that Conservative Party members haven’t been fooled either. The only people who seem to think HS2 is a good idea are politicians who think it might be a vote winner, but this result shows exactly the opposite, scrapping HS2 is what people want.
“The General Election gives Mrs May and Mr Corbyn the chance to break free from the shackles of previous manifestos and blind support for HS2. We implore them to see sense and remove any commitment to HS2 from their manifestos, before billions of pounds are syphoned off by the contractors who have lobbied for this white elephant.”
Penny Gaines, chairwoman of Stop HS2, added: "The results of the Conservative Home poll show a clear lack of enthusiasm for HS2, coming in last place of a long list of options. But this should be no surprise, as poll after poll have shown HS2 is not wanted.
“Looking in more depth at the alternatives polled, the respondents aren't against infrastructure spending or building new homes. But there are a lot of other ways of spending the £55bn allocated to HS2, not just the alternatives in the poll of nuclear power stations and schools. Other ideas include expanding digital 4G coverage, the infrastructure needed for driverless cars and building a cycling network.”
As reported by the Express & Star last month, work on the line has started. After more than a decade of planning,ground investigation work has started on fields along the planned route at Whittington, near Lichfield.
Engineers are drilling holes, or using radar, to determine what type of land the 225mph train line will be built upon when major construction starts next year.
When completed in 2026 tranquil parts of Staffordshire countryside will be transformed with a huge embankment, deep railway cutting, and a massive viaduct that will carry the super-fast passenger trains.
HS2 Ltd, the government-owned company behind the project, is in the process of assessing some 9,000 sites along the route between London and Lichfield for preparatory work.
Staffordshire Wildlife Trust claim160 wildlife sites will be affected by the first phase of HS2, as well as 129 acres of ancient woodland.
In February the first phase of the scheme from the capital to the West Midlands was granted Royal Assent.
It is claimed HS2 will create around 25,000 jobs during construction as well as 2,000 apprenticeships and support a further 100,000 jobs.
In total 45 miles of Staffordshire countryside will be affected.