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Closed petition Cancel HS2 and use the money for the NHS and local economies, post Covid-19.

Change the decision to proceed with HS2 and use the billions of pounds to help the NHS and the economy recover.

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The Covid-19 outbreak has decimated the NHS and damaged the economy like nothing before. The decision to continue spending money on the HS2 is flawed and should be urgently reviewed. We cannot use the excuse that we need HS2 to aid the economy, as there is a much greater need for the money elsewhere and the economy will need to focus on the basics and local economies for years to come. The land purchased and re-designated can be used for building homes and business units, which will aid our recovery.

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Government responded

This response was given on 1 June 2020

The Government is doing whatever is necessary to deal with Covid-19 now, while continuing to invest in the country’s future infrastructure. That is why we are getting on with HS2.

Read the response in full

Our absolute priority right now is on tackling the spread of COVID-19 to protect our NHS and save lives.

This is why the Government has made clear that it will do whatever is required to ensure that the NHS has the resources it needs, while taking unprecedented steps to support the economy and UK businesses at this difficult time.

But this does not mean we should delay work on our long-term plans to level up the country and invest in the country’s future infrastructure. The decision earlier this year to proceed with HS2 will provide thousands of construction workers and businesses across the country with certainty at a time when they need it most.

The project will contribute towards sustainable growth in towns, cities and regions across the country, spreading prosperity and opportunity more evenly. It will act as a catalyst for job creation, the development of new homes and ultimately, the regeneration of major cities and towns along the HS2 route.

In addition to this, HS2 will play a key role in achieving the UK’s transition to carbon net zero by 2050. This is because, once HS2 is in operation, it will offer some of the lowest carbon emissions per passenger km – seven times less than passenger cars and 17 times less than domestic air travel in 2030.

HS2 will also free up space on the West Coast, East Coast and Midland Mainlines for more passenger and freight services. Rail freight produces 76% less CO2 per tonne of cargo compared to road haulage. Every extra freight train takes up to 76 lorries off the road. In short, by providing a cleaner, greener way to travel, HS2 will help cut the number of cars and lorries on our roads, cut demand for domestic flights, and help the country’s fight against climate change.

However, the Prime Minister has said that HS2 should only continue if costs are kept under tight control. So, when we made the decision to proceed with HS2 in February, this came alongside a package of reform measures to instil financial order, discipline and transparency, including a Ministerial Taskforce and dedicated HS2 Minister to oversee the project and provide accountability.

The Department has also now published the Phase One (West Midlands to London) Full Business Case (FBC) for HS2. And, in April, HS2 Ltd issued ‘notice to proceed’ so its contractors can begin main construction works along the Phase One route. This provides certainty to thousands of construction workers and businesses across the country at this difficult time. This decision protects jobs and means that work can truly begin on delivering this transformational project.

This is why we are getting on with HS2, which already employs 9,000 people and is crucial to levelling up our regions, providing vital rail capacity and meeting our 2050 obligations on carbon reduction.

Department for Transport