SIR David Higgins recently said that HS2 is no longer a Whitehall owned or controlled project and it is very much controlled by the regions.

He also said it is for local authorities and MPs, not HS2 itself or the Government, to ensure that local ambitions are brought to fruition.

This is the same man who claims to understand the local geology, without the benefit of a degree in that science, such that he states that HS2 can be safely built in mid Cheshire.

He bases his assertion on his role as leader of English Partnerships who were involved in the stabilisation of Barons Quay.

He makes no mention that the cost of the Mid Cheshire route will be in the region of £430m per mile.

He chooses also to ignore the views of highly experienced geologists such as Dr Ros Todhunter who radically disagrees with his assertion regarding safety.

HS2 Ltd now assert that the passenger usage will be 300,000 per day of which 48 per cent will be tourists, annualise these figures and you get 109.5m per annum of which 52.6m will be tourists.

The mind really does boggle at such figures, especially when current data indicates that there is spare capacity on long distance routes and that the real problem is on commuter routes into large conurbations.

His assertion that HS2 can and will be brought in on budget beggars belief.

He really should acquire a digital crystal ball, his current model hasn’t the ability to cope with modern technology.

Current thinking is that Phase 1 to Birmingham will cost £54b and that Phases 2a and 2b will cost a further £52b.

This is almost double the current estimate.

The fact that other monies for HS2 will be hidden, such as the recently announced £350m, in the costings of the so called Northern Powerhouse; belies his assertion that the final cost will be £54b.

Turning to local issues, Northwich will in no way benefit from HS2.

Firstly the only access points, if built, will be Manchester and Crewe.

Secondly the construction phase of at least a two year period, will cause horrendous disruption. Both the A556 and A54 will have to be realigned to cater for HS2.

The effect on local and national industries could well be terminal resulting in many jobs loses.

Connections with the motorway network will be more difficult.

The construction corridor will be some 200 metres wide.

It has been calculated that to build the proposed embankment from Wymboldsley to Pickmere will involve over 54,000 inward lorry movements and a corresponding 54,000 outward movements.

Here I am talking about very large capacity lorries, far bigger than we normally see on our local roads.

Will HS2 bring more businesses to Northwich?

You only have to look at the ghost town that is Barons Quay to answer that question.

New or expanding businesses will avoid Northwich like the plague.

Ewen Simpson Whatcroft