13 Nov 2019

In his September HS2 progress update to the House of Commons on 3 September 2019, Grant Shapps has stated that the cross-party review would: "report this autumn.", that he [Grant Shapps] would discuss the report with the PM and that it would inform decisions on next steps. The review was expected to be controversial and when it had not been published by the time that the pre-election sensitivity period began it was then not expected until after the election. Indeed on 2 November Tony Berkeley tweeted that the Oakervee Report on HS2 would be delayed: "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 to publish." 

But the infrastructure project is now set to be an election issue. It was reported in the Guardian on 12 November 2019 that a copy of the draft report has, allegedly, been seen by the Times and then on 13 November Tony Berkeley released a copy of his letter to the Chairman of the HS2 Review panel. His letter begins: "Thank you for allowing me to read this draft last Thursday [7 November 2019]. As I mentioned afterwards, I cannot support its conclusions or recommendations, and have serious problems with its lack of balance." and it ends: "Please therefore take this letter as a formal notice that I do not support the Review Report. I reserve the right to publish my own alternative report in due course." 

With a copy of the draft report allegedly made public together with Berkeley making his criticism very public, it is difficult to see how HS2 will not now be an election issue.