Another HS2 shambles, wasting OUR money

The decision to allow thousands of young trees to die in the summer heatwave is the latest example of a shambolic lack of common sense among the team behind HS2, according to UKIP’s Transport spokesman.

Jill Seymour MEP has criticised officials for neglecting saplings which it planted in Buckinghamshire, allowing them to die because it was not deemed ‘cost-effective’ to keep watering them.

“This is yet another example of shambolic planning, and a disgraceful waste of taxpayers’ money,” said Mrs Seymour, who re-affirmed her party’s opposition to HS2 in her speech at this month’s UKIP conference.

Under the terms of its contract, HS2 must plant new trees along the line of the proposed route to compensate for the loss of the many pockets of ancient woodland which are being decimated by the project.

But HS2 admitted neglecting saplings it planted in Buckinghamshire during the summer, allowing them to die because it was not seen as ‘cost-effective’ to keep watering them.

Around 50,000 young trees – a mix of oak, hazel, dogwood, holly and other native species – were planted in March in the Colne Valley that borders the London borough of Hillingdon.

HS2 claims only a third of the trees, which it says cost around 50p each to plant, have since died, but the Denham Against HS2 group has reported that as many as 36,000 have been lost.

Mrs Seymour said: “For HS2 to suggest that leaving saplings to die, and replacing them at a later date, would be more financially sensible than finding a way of watering them is nonsensical.

“Are you seriously telling me that HS2 thought it would be able to leave young saplings to fend for themselves, without some form of nurturing – with or without our summer heatwave?

“No-one plants flowers, shrubs or trees without making sure they are watered in until established. As usual though, HS2 officials didn’t do their homework.

“If each sapling cost 50p to plant – and I suspect the actual cost is much higher when labour and maintenance is taken into account – then it looks like the replacement bill, in this one location alone, is going to come to more than £15,000.

“And remember, this is all coming out of taxpayers’ pockets, before a single line of track has been laid. It’s a scandal.

“This is yet another reminder of why this gravy train should be halted in its tracks. It’s a vanity project with no proven business case, and it’s haemorrhaging money.

“The technology being planned for HS2 is already decades out of date, and who knows how much the scheme is going to end up costing – if it ever gets finished at all.”