Not in my back yard: the MPs against fast rail link

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Indy Politics

David Cameron faces a growing ministerial backlash against plans to build a high-speed rail link between London and the North.

With public consultation closing today on the £32bn project, it emerged that six ministers whose constituencies are on its proposed route are resisting the scheme.

The Coalition inherited the project from Labour. Civic leaders in Yorkshire, the North-west and West Midlands have welcomed it, while Tory MPs in London and the Home Counties are opposed to trains hurtling through their constituencies at more than 200mph.

Nick Hurd, the Cabinet Office minister, said a faster inter-city service to the North would be desirable. But he added: "There is insufficient evidence in the validity of the HS2 [High Speed 2] business case and there is no environmental case." He wrote of the "widespread opposition" to the scheme in his Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner constituency, adding: "There is dismay at the lack of information or evidence on which to base any response to the consultation."

His neighbour in Uxbridge and South Ruislip, John Randall, the Deputy Chief Whip, wrote: "HS2 is simply not the answer to improved rail services and economic growth. There are other alternatives, which have not been properly considered in enough detail."

The Welsh Secretary, Cheryl Gillan, MP for Chesham, is the most senior minister to have gone public with her opposition. One senior colleague protested: "She's making the cabinet room very draughty – she should either get out or close the door and sit down."

Dominic Grieve, the Attorney General, is also lobbying against it. A spokeswoman for the MP for Beaconsfield said: "He is obviously concerned about it because of the effect on his constituency."

David Lidington, the Europe minister, has told constituents in Aylesbury that he is pressing Transport ministers to change their minds over the route. The MP for Lichfield, Michael Fabricant, a government whip, is arguing that the scheme is "not the only answer to high-speed travel and rail gridlock" and protested over the impact on "unspoiled countryside".

A Transport Department source said he recognised that ministers were representing their constituents and all submissions would be examined.

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