A resident in the gorgeous Chiltern Hills has said the area is “forever scarred” by HS2, adding that the “intense” disruption to the lives of local residents is made all the more painful now that the project is a “white elephant”.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced last month that the Birmingham to Manchester leg of the project would be scrapped, meaning that the line, which has cost around £24bn so far, will only connect the capital with the second city. The eye-watering expenditure will see passengers save 36 minutes on their journey time.
Clark Gordon, who lives between the tiny villages of Wendover and Great Missendon, told Express.co.uk that England’s historic countryside is being destroyed over the “poorly planned grand scheme”.
Mr Gordon, who previously worked on HS2 whilst at the Environment Agency, told this website that the cancellation of the Birmingham to Manchester phase of HS2 was “disappointing, but not surprising”.
He added that the line will be “hugely urbanising” for rural communities and that the Chilterns official Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty has been “forever scarred” by the construction.
Mr Gordon, 39, whose role in delivering HS2 included assessing flood risk and groundwater contamination in his area of the Chilterns, added that he knew the villages on the construction route would be “severely impacted”.
He explained that he and others “raised concerns that the construction and cost risks were always underplayed by HS2 and their contractors”, adding that “recent reports of corruption in the project are another one under the ‘disappointing, but not surprising’ bracket.”
The Times reported last month that senior HS2 officials shredded documents, axed whistleblowers and gave misleading cost projections designed to keep the flow of government funding coming.
Mr Gordon was also highly critical of alleged behaviour of HS2 marshals, claiming that their radios would keep residents up all night.
The Wendover native claimed: “In terms of staff attitudes, we had marshalls on our single track lane for over a year while they used it for construction traffic.
“Over that time we had several marshals who were rude to us, usually after we asked them to turn their radios down in the early hours of the morning, which was a frequent issue.”
The former HS2 worker was keen to note that most construction staff were respectful towards local people.
Mr Gordon, who left the Environment Agency to work for Horsham District Council in January, said that residents were so weary of the project that they were now beyond anger.
He reflected: “I think most have passed the anger stage now and are probably resigned. If anything, people just want it constructed as quickly as possible now to try and minimise the time of major inconvenience.”
He was quick to assuage any notions that his complaints, and that of local residents, were not reflective of staunch nimbyism in the area: “Finally, I’d just like to say that I am not a NIMBY. I’m generally very supportive of transport infrastructure in particular.
“For example, I strongly support the East West Rail project locally. I also think we need greater levels of housing development locally.
“But HS2 has always felt like a poorly planned grand scheme, which consecutive governments were too fearful to stop because of the perceived message it would send and the already sunk costs. Now it’s just a money pit.”
A spokesperson for HS2 Ltd said:“We are working hard to reduce disruption during construction with a 10 mile long tunnel under the Chilterns helping to protect the natural environment.
“Our contractors operate within the Code of Construction Practice and we would encourage anyone with a complaint about the conduct of staff on site to contact us so that any issues can be resolved.”