Guest column: HS2 plans for South Yorkshire are unacceptable

Sir Kevin Barron MP
Sir Kevin Barron MP

The Government has admitted that a comparison of housing demolition figures used to help justify changing the HS2 route through South Yorkshire was wrong by at least 40 per cent.

A correction published by the Department for Transport said that a previous claim that altering the route away from a now-scrapped station at Meadowhall to a route close to the M18 would result in a 81 per cent reduction in the number of properties eligible for compensation, was incorrect and had been published due to a ‘drafting error’.

The note said the real number is a 41 per cent reduction, but that does not take into account HS2’s ‘need to sell’ scheme, which allows people with a ‘compelling reason’ to sell their house to the Government and is judged on a case-by- case basis.

It said the incorrect 81 per cent figure relating to homes and businesses eligible for statutory compensation and non-statutory property schemes had been calculated from a previous version of HS2 advice.

Therefore they can have no way of predicting how many people will be affected or able to apply.

I will continue fighting this change – South Yorkshire has been left with all of the pain and absolutely no gain which I feel is simply unacceptable.

Many of you will have received Blue Planet 2 DVD for Christmas and a lot of people have been contacting me about marine protection around the UK overseas territories and the #BackTheBlueBelt campaign, which I have signed up to.

The UK Government has said that it is on track to deliver its blue belt manifesto commitment to work with overseas territory Governments to create a blue belt of marine protection.

And it has stated that by 2020 it will have protected four million square kilometres of ocean around our overseas territories.

Our seas and oceans face a changing climate, and a long-term, strategic approach will be essential.

I hope that the UK Government will continue to reaffirm its commitment to conservation and express support for the goals of establishing a marine protected area around the South Sandwich Islands in 2018 and a fully protected area in at least 50 per cent of Ascension Island’s waters in 2019

I also hope that it will continue to make progress on the Blue Belt Programme more widely.

I can assure you that I will continue to press the UK Government to protect Blue Belts and to take the boldest possible steps to combat the pollution of our precious seas and oceans.