Tony Ciaburro, director of environment, development and transport at Northamptonshire County Council, has responded on behalf of the council to the Government’s consultation on High Speed Rail. Click here to view/download the council's response.
In his covering letter accompanying the council's submission, Mr Ciaburro writes:
"Northamptonshire is in a different position from most other areas which will be responding to the consultation, in that the published route between London and the West Midlands crosses our area, but we could also benefit from the relief of capacity on the southern ends of the West Coast Main Line and the Midland Main Line. In addition we share with the whole country the questions of whether the construction of a high speed rail network is in the national interest and whether it is affordable.
"Reaching a balanced judgement on these different viewpoints has been a difficult one for the County Council. Full Council has debated the subject of High Speed Rail twice. The outcome is that the County Council’s response to this consultation is supportive of the principle of a high-speed rail network in Britain, but opposed to the current proposals which it does not believe can be adequately demonstrated to represent either value for money or environmental benefit, tests which need to be better met for such a major project to go forward.
"In drawing up this response, however, I have been mindful not only of the County Council’s resolution on the matter, but also of the various arguments raised by Councillors in debate and by the local community in their various submissions to us. Without prejudicing the Council’s agreed position, I have drawn on these points in this consultation response, as they are useful in reflecting the different aspirations and objectives of the various areas of the county.
"We have not been wholly persuaded by the arguments put forward by the Department and HS2 Limited, or by the opponents of the scheme. Both have too often appeared to only wish to highlight the arguments favourable to the case they wish to put. We believe that acting in the national interest, the Departments need to consider and detail a wider range of options and to more clearly set out the uncertainties and assumptions so that the public can have the certainty needed to determine whether such a major investment decision as high-speed rail is justified."