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Mon October 19 2020

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Oakervee's HS2 review to be buried until after election

4 Nov 19 The ‘independent’ review of the £85bn HS2 rail project will not be published until well into 2020, according to the deputy chairman of the review panel, Lord Berkeley.

Might happen; might not
Might happen; might not

With a general election now set for 12th December, current transport secretary Grant Shapps plans to lock away the review report for his successor to deal with.

According to Lord Berkeley, the review report is still being written, but his work as deputy chair to Doug Oakervee has been completed.

Lord Berkeley tweeted over the weekend: “My role as dep chair of the Oakervee Report on HS2 finished yesterday. Report not finished and no opportunity to influence conclusions.  We are told that, when completed by Doug O and the DfT secretariat, it will be locked into the DfT vaults for the new S of S [secretary of state] to publish.”

Commissioning a review of HS2 was one of the first actions taken by Boris Johnson after he became prime minister on 24th July. The review team was instructed to submit its final report in autumn 2019. (Autumn ends on 1st December or 22nd December, depending on one’s preference for the meteorological or astronomical definition.)

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Doug Oakervee led the review and as a former chair of HS2 Ltd is presumed to be sympathetic to the project. In 2013 he said “HS2 is vital to the growth of the UK economy and will deliver the capacity our rail network sorely needs”.

The appointment of Labour peer Lord Berkeley, an HS2 sceptic, as deputy chair was seen as an attempt to provide balance. Both men are civil engineers by professional background.

However, with the deputy chair of the review now saying that he has “no opportunity to influence conclusions”, it does rather make one wonder what he was doing there in the first place.

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