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Regular news: Issue 584 18 Nov 2011

HS2 challenge group ‘full of high-speed supporters’

The House of Commons transport committee has voiced concern that many of the reviewers of the Government’s high-speed rail plans are vocal supporters of the scheme.

In 2009 the Government set up three challenge panels to provide “independent expert scrutiny” of the strategic, technical and analytical aspects of the work by HS2 Ltd.

But the MPs note: “The strategic challenge panel comprises eight [nine – ed] transport and local government experts who are almost all publicly supportive of high-speed rail, including the director of Yes to HS2 [David Begg], the director of Greengauge 21 [Jim Steer], and the chief executive of Network Rail [David Higgins].”

“Of the three groups, currently comprising 22 people (all men), only the analytical challenge panel contains any evident critic of high-speed rail,” it says.

Steve Baker, the Conservative MP for High Wycombe and the most vocal critic of high-speed rail on the committee, said the challenge panels were “not credible”.


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18 Nov 2011

This is frankly an outrage. For what purpose can the panels then be if not to steamroller a political agenda, which in light of this we must suspect will not stand up to scrutiny. The stakes are very high here, and with growing opposition and increasing suspicion of this huge project, surely transparency and rigour ought to be of foremost concern. This has a rather strong whiff of a fix-up does it not? Discuss...

19 Nov 2011

Disgraceful. Does any government understand the true meaning of 'independent.'