Following the government’s decision to formally lifting the safeguarding directions for High Speed 2 (HS2) Phase 2a (between the West Midlands and Crewe), we have released the following statement:

Today’s decision to remove the safeguarding of Phase 2a land from Birmingham-Crewe is a mistake. Our research shows that if the land currently reserved for HS2 between Birmingham and Crewe were to be sold, the loss of value to the tax payer will be as much as £100m, whilst the HS2 Chair last week told the Select Committee that a further £100m of costs could be incurred in the process.

Although we welcome the continued safeguarding of land at Handsacre, protecting the remaining land remains essential. Since the Prime Minister’s announcement in October it has become clear that the cancellation of Phase 2 will require a significant alternative plan for rail investment to avoid worsening existing capacity issues on the West Coast Main Line. A viable alternative plan may require some, or all, of this land and a hasty sale of it could make delivering such a plan impossible, or at least more expensive. Smart countries keep their options open for the future and prematurely removing the safeguarding before this new plan is developed is foolhardy.