'The right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing': Staffordshire MP hits out at HS2

A minister has pledged to raise concerns over the environmental damage caused by HS2 with the firm responsible for the controversial line.

A number of ancient woodlands have been destroyed to make way for HS2
A number of ancient woodlands have been destroyed to make way for HS2

Andrew Stephenson MP visited parts of Lichfield to see sites where ancient woodland had been torn down to make way for HS2, which is set to pass through 45 miles of Staffordshire countryside on its way to the north west.

The HS2 Minister stopped off at Kings Bromley and Fradley as a guest of Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant.

Mr Stephenson said: "I’m pleased to have been able to visit Lichfield to see for myself at first-hand some of the challenges that the local community are facing and the environmental impact of the HS2 programme.

"I’m now going to raise many of these issues with HS2 limited and within my own Department for Transport."

HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson (left) with Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant

Mr Fabricant, who is a long time opponent of HS2, said he wanted the minister to "see for himself the damage caused by the new line".

He added: "I also raised with Andrew the more general point of poor communications within HS2 itself and the consequent challenges this causes in dealing with local constituents.

"Often, the right hand of HS2 doesn’t know what the left hand is doing and, on occasion, the calibre and imagination of some HS2 personnel cause very real difficulties for my constituents.

"I frequently have to intervene to escalate issues to senior management."

Mr Stephenson said he was looking into "some of the difficulties arising from poor communication with local communities".

“This is something that we are really keen to improve upon and I am working to ensure that HS2’s feet are held to the fire to ensure that they communicate more effectively with impacted communities," he said.

A spokesperson for HS2 said: "HS2 Ltd takes the environmental cost of construction very seriously, which is why we’re delivering an unprecedented programme of tree planting and habitat creation alongside the new railway – with up to seven million new trees and shrubs set to be planted between London and Birmingham alone.

"Over 113,000 new trees have already been planted in Staffordshire.

“The construction of HS2 is playing a vital role in Britain’s economic recovery from Covid-19, with over 16,000 people working on the project, tens of thousands of additional jobs supported through our supply chain, and hundreds of companies in the Midlands already benefitting.

"By providing a cleaner, greener way to travel, HS2 will help cut the number of cars and lorries on our roads, cut demand for domestic flights, and help the country’s push to reduce carbon emissions."

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