HS2 review: ‘Government cannot just walk away’ says Georgia Gould as independent inquiry is announced

Protesters hold a banner outside the Rolls Building in central London, as Transport Secretary Chris

Protesters hold a banner outside the Rolls Building in central London, as Transport Secretary Chris Grayling launches High Court action in a bid to stop 'unlawful protest' by demonstrators opposed to the HS2 rail line running through a woodland area in west London. - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

The government is launching an independent inquiry into HS2, the transport secretary announced this morning.

The high-speed rail line, which would start at a new rail hub next to Euston Station and initially run to Birmingham, has seen major changes to the area nearby as work has begun.

Residents across Primrose Hill, Belsize and Regent's Park had campaigned and protested against the line going ahead.

Its cost could spiral to more than £130bn according to a study earlier this year.

Grant Shapps said that Douglas Oakervee will lead the review with Lord Berkeley as his deputy. They will examine HS2s benefits and impacts, affordability, deliverability and phasing.

The review will report to Mr Shapps in the autumn, and will "inform the government's decisions on next steps for the project."

Camden Council's leader Georgia Gould said: "Camden's communities have been blighted by uncertainty, upheaval and severe disruption since the very beginning of the HS2 scheme - and today's announcement does nothing to allay this.

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"Billions have already been spent but whatever happens now, the Government has a huge responsibility to Camden residents. With council homes demolished, green space taken away and a black hole forming around Euston, the Government cannot just walk away and leave us to pick up the pieces.

"If HS2 is scrapped completely, or if the line is terminated elsewhere, we would want our land back. With the land and the funding, we estimate that we could create thousands of homes and jobs in the Euston area.

"We have clear and ambitious plans for Camden's future - and we cannot allow these to be put at risk."

In a statement his morning, Mr Shapps said: "The prime minister has been clear that transport infrastructure has the potential to drive economic growth, redistribute opportunity and support towns and cities across the UK, but that investments must be subject to continuous assessment of their costs and benefits."

This story is being updated.