Oct 5 2011 By James Cracknell
TRANSPORT secretary Philip Hammond has been accused of not telling the 'whole truth' in his speech to the Conservative Party conference this week.
Ruislip Against HS2 chairman Lottie Jones said Mr Hammond had again insulted those who live along the route of the proposed s32bn high-speed line by implying they were just 'nimbys' complaining about the loss of their back yards.
The Tory minister compared HS2 to the construction of the first Victorian railways and the M25 in the 1960s in his speech to party members in Manchester on Monday (1).
"I know that these huge infrastructure projects, like the reforms to the planning system that Eric has announced, provoke some strong opposition," Mr Hammond said.
"Just as the building of the original Victorian railways did. And the construction of the M25 which runs through my backyard.
"But imagine Britain without them now. As an individual, I respect people's instinct to defend their own back yards.
"But the job of government is to act in the interest of the nation as a whole. Taking the tough decisions for the long term, even when the temptation for politicians is to look to the next four years not the next 40."
Mrs Jones said the government was wrong to suggest HS2 was in the national interest. She told the Gazette: "They are still calling us nimbys.
"They are selling this programme of economic growth and regeneration but they are not telling anyone how much it will degenerate along the way.
"I consider the whole country as my back yard, and I just don't think we need this new infrastructure. We could upgrade what we have already got for a much smaller cost and much more quickly."
In its own response to Mr Hammond's speech, the national Stop HS2 campaign announced that it hoped to field a slate of candidates against MPs in the 26 constituencies along the route from London to Birmingham, the majority of which are held by Tories such as local MPs Nick Hurd and John Randall.
However, Mrs Jones downplayed the likelihood of herself or any other campaigner in Hillingdon challenging the pair. "It is just an idea, nothing has been organised," she said.
"It might be a bit of a step too far for me."