3rd Mar, 2021

Campaigners argue pandemic has changed travel as HS2 petition surpasses 100,000 signatures

THE PETITION to scrap the controversial HS2 project has passed the 100,000 signature threshold to trigger a debate in Parliament.

The petition, launched by environmentalist and TV presenter Chris Packham, calls for government to stop wasting taxpayers’ money on the £100bn high-speed rail and to hold a new vote to repeal the existing legislation.

It reached more than 100,000 signatures in four days, and now stands at just over 133,000.

Campaigners argue the pandemic has permanently shifted travel patterns since railway use has fallen dramatically as people continue to work from home.

Local HS2 protester Matt Bishop said: “HS2’s carbon calculations and its dire benefit-cost ratio are based on HS2 moving 3000,000 passengers a day. On December 18 we surveyed three rush-hour trains going from Birmingham to Euston. There were only 30 to 40 passengers going direct to London on each train. Where are the other 299,780 coming from? The flawed project is now only justified as a job creation scheme at a £100million a week for 20 years it’s ridiculously overpriced. NHS not HS2!”

Warwickshire has seen woodland cut down in ancient woods, including Cubbington and Crackley and along the Greenway in Offchurch, to make way for 54km of the rail link. The company is mitigating the loss by planting some 250,000 trees in the area, although campaigners say the efforts would not replace the ancient and valuable woodland.

Chris Packham is encouraging the public to keep signing the petition which time limit runs to June.

He told supporters: “A growing number of signatures will send out an even louder signal to decision makers to say that we are questioning their current decision. “Please pass the petition on to any family and friends or others who you feel may want to support this and we will be back in touch on HS2 in the very near future as we continue to try to get some sense and sensibility into the discussions about this project and do everything we can to protect wildlife, the environment, the landscape and lives of people, as well as wildlife across England.”

The Observer has approached HS2 for comment.

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