Over half of all Britons oppose the development of the controversial HS2 rail line, according to the results of a new survey.
The ComRes poll, commissioned by the HS2 Action Alliance protest group, found that 52% oppose the current plans to build HS2 while around 30% support them.
Some 28% said they would be less likely to support the Conservatives at the next election because of their support for the project, while 19% said they are more likely to support Labour if the party stands against it.
“It now appears that the Conservative Party is paying a political price for its continued enthusiasm for the project,” said Hilary Wharf, director of the HS2 Action Alliance.
“That price looks particularly high in those regions where it must do well if it wishes to form the next government. The politics of HS2 now resemble the rest of the project – highly risky with little return.”
“At over £1,500 per UK adult HS2 represents a gross waste of taxpayer’s money,” she added.
The disputed cost – said to be about £42bn by HS2 Ltd, though other estimates have been considerably higher – is just one reason critics oppose the high speed project.
Campaigners have complained that the official environmental impact assessment of the project demonstrates “a shocking disregard” for England’s wildlife.
The paper revealed that 43 areas of ancient woodland would be threatened by the development, although this figure has now been said to be nearer to 49 by the Woodland Trust.
Opponents have also refuted claims that the rail line will help the UK lower its carbon emissions, referring to a paper by HS2 Ltd itself that says emissions caused by construction of the line will outweigh carbon savings over the first 60 years of operation.
However, supporters have claimed that the north of England will be badly affected if the project does not go ahead. Some MPs have argued that only HS2 can provide the increased capacity that UK’s rail lines will need in the future.
Earlier this month, the new chairman of HS2 urged the government to unite in support of the project and ensure it is completed ahead of schedule to avoid rising costs.