Another outcry over HS2: Osborne in the frame
The high speed rail network has caused the government its fair share of headaches. From the first moment that consultation started on a network which was supposed to breathe new life into Britain's regions, there have been scandals, complaints and accusations.
The latest is the suggestion that the line is being diverted around the posh bits of George Osborne's constituency.
OutcryThe northern section of the route was unveiled yesterday, and attention was soon focused on Osborne's Tatton seat in Cheshire. The route - which has drawn criticism for the way it slices through some spectacular scenery with little notice taken of the impact on the surroundings - seems to take on a much less straightforward route in this part of the country.
The section has been described by the Telegraph as a dog-leg, which adds six miles to the route - at an estimated cost of £93 million a mile. Martin Tett, leader of Tory-controlled Buckinghamshire county council, who is coordinating the campaign by local authorities opposed to the scheme, told the newspaper: "The line seems to do a loop around the wealthiest parts of Tatton, which is interesting because we were told there was no way it could do anything other than go in a straight line, no matter what stood in its path. In the south it has to go in a straight line, but in the north it can do a detour, costing several hundred million pounds extra."
The Department of Transport has insisted that no section of the route has been considered any differently, and a spokesman for Osborne said that he had played no part in deciding the route.
Widespread angerThe outcry is understandable. The route is crossing the country, forcing a number of properties to be compulsory purchased by the government - including 14 Grade II listed buildings. There is disruption and noise for anyone in the vicinity of the building work and the finished route itself. There are large areas of the countryside that will change forever, and near neighbours will face a significant change to the local traffic.
With this level of disruption, the mere suggestion that someone elsewhere is getting special treatment is bound to irritate. And with more than 70 local groups set up to fight the development, each one is ready to make a great deal of noise about it.
Keri Brennan of Ruislip Against HS2 reacted to the Northern route by saying: "Another major point of interest for Londoners today is the route through the city of Manchester is almost all in tunnel – meanwhile many Londoners still face HS2 ploughing through their gardens, schools, closing roads and so on, time for a fair deal for all!"
Mistake?One group, Stop HS2, is adamant that the entire project remains a mistake. Campaign Manager Joe Rukin said:"There will not just be more upset because of HS2, but there will be abject misery. People find that their homes have been devalued and countryside woodland and wildlife havens are to be destroyed for no good reason other that lining the pockets of the construction industry."
However, proponents of the route argue that it will create 40,000 new jobs, it will shift 9 million trips a year onto the rail network, and it will open up the whole of the UK to business which is currently concentrated in the South East. In their view, it's worth a bit of rural blight and the odd compulsory purchase.
But what do you think? Let us know in the comments.