It’s quite common, when talking to the general public, to find that they make assumptions about HS2’s green credentials.
However, you would expect employees of the Department for Transport to be more informed. You would expect that when they issue a white paper, they would have checked their assumptions and ensured that the document reflects what the department is doing.
The title of the white paper issued yesterday – Creating Growth, Cutting Carbon: Making Sustainable Local Transport Happen – means you don’t have to read it to find out what the Government’s priorities for the local transport sector is.
But I was astounded when I read the executive summary (p8);
We also need to reduce the carbon impact of longer journeys – and here
we see that rail, particularly high speed rail between some of our largest
cities, has a critical role to play. By prioritising spending on key rail projects
such as high speed rail and Crossrail, we will be providing commuters and
intercity travellers with attractive new options instead of the car.
This view may be laudable, but, as we reported last week, it is sharp contrast with what HS2 Ltd said in their main report: “Perhaps the most important point to note is that this is equivalent to a range of -0.3% to +0.3% of UK transport emissions. So HS2 would not be a major factor in managing carbon in the transport sector. “
It is clear whoever first wrote the paragraph in the white paper, whoever edited it, whoever signed it off, they should all be arguing inside the Department for Transport that going ahead with HS2 is not a good way of managing carbon emissions.
If HS2 really is a priority for the government, they should acknowledge that they aren’t that serious about cutting carbon emissions.