Posted 7th April 2013 | 8 Comments

UKIP set to make HS2 an issue in local elections

IN the run up to next month’s county council elections, new controversy is surrounding plans for HS2 as UKIP claims the project is going ahead on the orders of the European Union.

Michael Fabricant, a Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party, has hit back after West Midlands UKIP MEP Mike Nattrass said his party was the only one “listening to the people and standing up for Britain by saying no to the EU-inspired HS2”.

Mr Fabricant, who is MP for Lichfield, said: “I am no supporter of HS2 as it carves a devastating route through Staffordshire. But when I heard that UKIP are claiming that HS2 is being constructed under orders from Brussels as a consequence of the TEN-T directive, I just had to check this out as it just didn’t ring true.”

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin responded by disputing the UKIP claim: “HS2 is a vital project that will help promote economic growth by providing the long-term transport capacity our country so manifestly needs,” he said.

He continued: “The decision to proceed with HS2 is of national importance and not a consequence of the TEN-T directive from Europe. It is plain wrong for UKIP to claim otherwise and they should stop misleading people.”

Further south, a disenchanted Chiltern Conservative has announced he is defecting to UKIP, with party leader Nigel Farage claiming more will follow suit.

David Meacock, district councillor for Chalfont Common, handed in his resignation from the Conservative party saying the government were “toffee-nosed buffoons” and criticised the handling of HS2 proposals.

Cllr Meacock claimed his position as a Tory had become untenable. “I cannot in all honesty continue to ask the local electorate to support the Conservative Party when it is so determinedly hell-bent on destroying our cherished Chilterns,” he said. “That’s a bit like asking turkeys to vote for Christmas.”

He said he would now stand for UKIP in the Buckinghamshire County Council elections on 2 May.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage said: “The HS2 project will be an absolute blight on our landscape, and David Cameron is fanatical about pushing it through despite the strength of public feeling against it.”

But Andrew Garnett, chairman of the Chesham and Amersham Conservative Association, responded: “UKIP have been dishonest about their position over HS2,” he said. “In 2010, they supported three high-speed rail links in their manifesto.”

Editor's note

• TEN-T is not a directive but the European Commission’s abbreviation for the designated Trans-European Transport Network, which comprises transport infrastructure, traffic management systems and positioning and navigation systems, and associated projects. In Britain it includes the East Coast, Great Western and West Coast Main Lines.  The list — shown on the accompanying map — of 30 TEN-T Priority Projects ( includes ‘West coast main line: COMPLETED 2009.’ The ‘high speed axis’ of Paris-Brussels/Brussels-Köln-Amsterdam-London (PBKAL), which includes HS1, is also listed and there is a priority to upgrade road and rail links between Dublin, London, Paris and Brussels. Reference to this upgrade includes HS2 as subject to ‘studies.’

In the listing ‘TEN-T Core Network: Country by Country’ last issued on 19 October 2011, ( the European Commission says of HS2: “The consultation process in the UK is ongoing and results will be known soon; for the moment, no inclusion in the core is therefore possible.” However, the GWML from South Wales and Bristol to London and links between Edinburgh and Glasgow are both shown as ‘upgrading.’

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • Gary Payne, Chesham

    To James Palmer of london
    HS2 is nothing like any railway we have ever seen, it is 90 metres wide,flanked by high metal fencing, it will look completely alien and the construction work and associated traffic will blight peoples lives for years to come.
    The destruction of ancient woodlands plus homes and complete villages ruined who needs it: the construction companies yes ? But they will come and go, our country will remain scarred and the same people for whom it will supposedly provide jobs will still remain unemployed.

  • Ian Brooker, Crawley, West sussex

    Mr Banner. You say "You seem not to be the sort of person who frequents or values the countryside through which the line will slice." Is that what its about for you? Far more people in urban areas of London and Birmingham will be affected by HS2, but you don't even consider them. Thats why people think its NIMBYism.

    Have to laugh at UKIP though. As long as 3 years ago they wanted to build 3 high speed lines, now they oppose HS2. What we need is principled parties - not parties led by politicians who change their mind when they see some spare votes going!

  • James Palma, London

    Oh dear. Why is it people proclaim that a new railway will cut a swathe through the British countryside?? it will not. indeed a lot of railways are barely noticeable except where there are substantial structures, which in some instanes can be pretty impressive. The Settle and Carlisle for instance.

    At the end of the day, most people are NIMBYS whilst accepting there may be a need for improved transport systems. I prefer a railway to 6-10 lane motorway any day!

  • Chris Neville-Smith, Durham, England

    The thing is, this is actually Europe working exactly the way UKIP wants it to. I have a lot of problems with EU micro-management and control freakery, but high speed rail is not an EU invention. France did not build high speed lines on the orders of the EU, it did it because the French government decided to do so of its own accord. Germany also did so of its own accord after seeing how well it was going in France. That is the way it should be done, just as it was when the rest of Europe once copied this new-fangled concepts pioneered in Britain called, err, the railway.

    I am getting confused as to what UKIP stands for now. Back in 2009 they were making many valid points about the EU's lack of respect for public opinion when they don't get their way. Now their policies seem to be a random list of grievances which are being blamed on the EU regardless of whether the EU had anything to do with it.

    Tony Pearce: If the Conservatives rethink their support on the basis of a good UKIP performance in the local elections, they will be stupid. The small number of votes they stand to re-take from people along the route will be more than outweighed by businesses massacring the Conservatives for allowing decisions of such national importance to be overridden by pandering to blatant local self-interest.

    Eric Banner: If you consider HS2 to be "destruction on a monumental scale", did you also oppose the building of the A41 and M40 which destroyed far more countryside than any two-track railway? If not, you have a massive double standard to explain.

  • Eric banner, Barnstaple

    To mr windebank,you obviously don't live in the firing line of HS2 which my family and friends do.there have been good alternative routes put forward,and the so called benefits are far from proven.You seem not to be the sort of person who frequents or values the countryside through which the line will slice.This is not nimbyism this is destruction on a monumental scale.You clearly don't have a clue, were you involved in the consultation process ,I have been closely involved due to family and friends directly in HS2s path.

  • Melvyn Windebank, Canvey Island, Essex

    UKIP doing what loves and that is mis-information !

    One has to ask why in the country that invented railways and had engineers way ahead of their time like Brenel and Stevenson they think Britain should have a 2nd class railway compared to the rest of the world?

    They are simply using HS2 as a way of getting Tory votes which is a bit rich given the amount of money Nigel Farage has gained from Europe!

    TENT is just the European equivalent to Inter City and simply maps out the main lines of Europe whether a country s inside or even outside the EU!

  • Tony Pearce, Reading

    The question is what impact UKIP will have if they do well in th elections. Would this cause a rethink in Conservative support for HS2 ? If the Greens do well in addition then the other parties may see a chance to gather votes.

  • Adam, Birmingham

    At least Michael Fabricant had the foresight to do his research unlike Mike Nattrass, David Meacock and the other UKIP sheep