Speaking in the Queen’s Speech debate in Parliament (15 May) Natascha Engel, Member of Parliament for North East Derbyshire, set out her concerns about the Government’s economic growth strategy in relation to High Speed 2.
Natascha outlined her main concerns about how government policy has affected the daily lives of her constituents in Renishaw, Killamarsh and Staveley.
In her speech Natascha criticised the Government on their lack of consultation, the lack of any clear economic case for HS2 and the fact that almost £800m of taxpayers money has already been spent on a scheme that is not even off the ground.
Supporting Natascha Engel’s viewpoint on the lack of any economic case, the National Audit Office warned in a report published today that it had “reservations about the business case” and had also estimated a £3.3bn shortfall in funding.
Commenting Natascha said,
“The Government has shown a complete lack of understanding about people’s lives and communities that were blighted from the day the proposed route was published. Even though nothing will happen in North East Derbyshire for 20 years houses can’t be sold, businesses are affected and regeneration projects such as the Chesterfield Canal Trust are facing an uncertain future. It is not a case of not in my backyard but through the house and village in which people have lived for generations. They do not benefit from HS2 and the train does not even stop in Derbyshire.”
Urging the Government to listen to her constituents Natascha said until this happened she would oppose plans for HS2.
To read Natascha Engel’s speech click link the following: House of Commons Hansard Debates for 15 May 2013 (pt 0003) or read below.
QUEEN’S SPEECH DEBATE
HOUSE OF COMMONS
15 MAY 2013
Natascha Engel (North East Derbyshire) (Lab): It is a great pleasure for me to take part in this final day of the Queen’s Speech debate, and to talk about the Government’s plan for economic growth. I have serious concerns about their proposals for the big infrastructure project HS2, which will mean that high-speed trains will go through the northern part of my constituency, just south of Sheffield—through Staveley, Killamarsh and, in particular, the village of Renishaw.
My main objections are to the lack of information for, and consultation with, the people whom the project will affect; the lack of a coherent economic case beyond a vague promise to open up the regions; and the lack of any real information about that economic case, when £800 million of taxpayers’ money has already been spent on preparatory work, and preparation is currently being made, in the two Bills that are to come before Parliament, for the spending of at least a further £33 billion.
Some of the things I am most concerned about, however, are the complete lack of understanding about people’s lives and the communities in which they live, and the fact that regeneration projects were blighted on the very day the plans for the HS2 route were published. Even though nothing will happen in my part of Derbyshire for 20 years, people are already finding it almost impossible to sell their homes, and businesses are starting to suffer. The main business and employer in the village of Renishaw is a fabulous wedding venue for people all around south Yorkshire and northern Derbyshire. It is very famous and has been operating for many years. Even though it is 20 years before anything may or may not happen, people are already cancelling weddings there simply because of the uncertainty.
The Chesterfield canal project, which regenerates very poor parts of the constituency, has also been operating for decades. The HS2 tracks will go right over the canal, and any match funding raised for the development of the canal has already stopped. These are important economic regeneration projects that have been stopped in their tracks because of the publication of a train line route, which has not even been finalised yet, let alone built.
This is not a “not in my backyard” argument. The tracks will go right through families’ houses, and through villages in which people have lived for many generations. They will not benefit from HS2, as the train does not stop in Derbyshire, but the HS2 project will stop all the regeneration and economic gains we have been making since the closures in the coal and steel industry.
That is not the only thing that is of concern to me. This is feeding into a far wider political problem. We say we represent these people, but they say they are not being consulted and not being allowed to have a say. In fact, we are saying we know better than they do what is good for them, but in this case we do not. I urge the Government to consult, persuade and explain, and to listen to all these people whose lives we are proposing to destroy. Until we do so, I will oppose these plans.