One Year On – how green is your Government?

Friends of the Earth have published a review of the Government’s policies, to see how green “the greenest government ever” actually is.  One of the policies they look at is the Coalition’s plans for High Speed Rail, and HS2 in particular – the Coalition wanted to pursue this as part of their plans to cut carbon emissions.

They aren’t impressed with the proposals carbon cutting credentials, and think other schemes might be better when it comes to reducing carbon.

Promised:

“The Coalition Agreement pledged to continue with Labour’s plans for High Speed 2. The Coalition has recently published its consultation on proposed routes. HS2 will cost £17bn, and current plans do not see construction start until 2019. It will be completed by 2030s, and it is claimed that there will be no added overall transport emissions as a result of HS2.”

Delivered:

“It is premature to make a judgement about High Speed Rail. There‟s a huge amount of research still to be done. But more and more people are starting to ask if this is really the priority that the Government makes it out to be.”

“A group of NGOs has formed an alliance calling for a more detailed consultation on HS2 – along with accurate measurements of C0₂ impacts. The Right Lines Charter is backed by CPRE, RSPB, Greenpeace, Campaign for Better Transport, Chiltern Society, Civic Voice, Environmental Law Foundation, Friends of the Earth, The Wildlife Trusts and The Woodland Trust. They have set out four principles for doing HS2 well: a national transport strategy; better future-proofing of big transport proposals; effective public participation; and a more strategic approach to minimising adverse impacts.”

“Carbon emissions from UK transport must be urgently cut – but the current High Speed Rail proposals will do little, if anything, to help. The majority of journeys are relatively short, so the Government‟s top priority should be to cut emissions from these trips. This means action to encourage greener travel and measures to reduce the need to travel for work or essential services.”

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15 comments on “One Year On – how green is your Government?
  1. Once again,you trade insults for argument,and miss the point entirely.Railtrack was a classic example of privatisation and fragmentation.Network Rail is hardly,as a quango,much of an improvement ,particularly in its continued neglect of the Northolt corridor(erstwhile New North Main Line)which is part of the “preferred route”for HS2.Increased numbers of passengers is a good thing,largely attributable to the rocketing price of petrol,but you ignore the fact that we don’t have ,as we once did,a comprehensive network,and,strange as it may seem to you,not everyone wants or needs to travel to Birmingham and the North.As a life-long rail buff,I don’t take kindly to your arrogance,and rest assured,won’t waste any more time giving caviare to the general !

    • Lifelong rail buff…..well good for you. But the fact is that we are now in the 21st century, and yes we dont have a network like we used to …..but back in Beeching days , the rail industry was leaking money like no tomorrow. An expanding Motorway network also made freight haulage a lot cheaper by road.

      Passenger numbers have been on the increase ever since Network Rail became custodians of the infrastructure, so they must be doing something right. They have a much better record than Railtrack in terms of delivering. One thing is for certain, we defo cant go back to the days of British Rail and militant unions which stop progress…..

  2. If the gov was trying to cut emissions in the atmosphere, then why isn’t there anything being done about the amount of cars in the road. Intead of using £17b on a new rail track, I can’t see why they can’t improve what they have and the roads that are abolishing the earth and it’s environment. Exactly how are they cutting the emissions? More cars will have to drive round what they have built on. They will have to build new roads, demolish PEOPLE’S houses, trash nice GREEN FRESH fields and perhaps extend journeys for the rest of the nation that travels on the road.

    “effective public participation” is also less likely, the amount of people against this unnecessary future plan is helping to stop something like this. I would like to know who is exactly FOR this plan and knows the full details. And that I mean people who doesn’t have some kind of pay off with their deal signing..

    • Amylou…..car ownership is an aspiration which nowadays most can afford. Modern cars are also a lot greener than they use to be , running on lead free petrol and containing more recyclable parts etc….

      Having said that , Manchester ( along with other cities ) is investing heavily in light rail……the initial scheme ( Metrolink ) managed to remove some 2 million car journeys per year. The secret is …..INVESTMENT IN PUBLIC TRANSPORT…….which when all said and done, is exactly what HS2 is……Interestingly , Manchester voted against a congestion charge similar to the one in London, the funds from which were to be used for such investment. However, we have gone ahead with the investment anyway…..

      • My point was,Gary,that since de-nationalisation and fragmentation of the rail system,there has been no overall strategy.If you haven’t already,please look into the rationale behind bringing it into public ownership for the benefit of all.One small example,using some of the profit from the more prosperous routes to support less-used and commercially less viable ones.Pre-Beeching one could travel almost anywhere in the country by rail.Cross-country routes,and branch lines were just as important to some as fast intercity lines.

        • Peter – pre Beeching,30% of the network carried just 1% of the traffic. Today there are more passengers using rail than at any time in its history. Which is quite an achievement considering we also have record numbers of vehicles on our roads.

          The Hatfield disaster was a major turning point in our rail history…..this led to the realisation that our infrastructure was in a much worse condition than was apprarent. The demise of Railtrack saw fresh impetus from Network Rail , the government, and franchise train operators. Today we see the result of all that work….with more on the way. Now can I suggest you do a little more research as you seem completely out of your depth……

  3. One phrase I keep seeing from this site is ” national transport strategy “. I ve asked the question before , but nobody seems to be able to answer it…….” What exactly is a National Transport Strategy?”.

    • I will try and find out what the NGO’s who signed up to this right lines charter mean by ‘,national transport strategy’. its a valid question Gary. I’ll get back to you soon on that.

      talking about carbon footprint and all that, http://www.redtapechallenge.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/home/index/ , this webpage seems to be the page to contribute to the governments consultation on reviewing environment laws. They break the laws down into categories eg. wild life, energy …etc

      All these important laws may well get reviewed by the current government. They aim to cut as much red tape as possible. Have your say.

      In my response i mentioned the right lines charter as being a positive way forward when it comes to questions of transport infrastructure affecting countryside, and the biggest thing for me is the need for full environmental impact reports being made available to the public at an early stage and for public consultation from the earliest stages of planning process,

    • i’ve copied this from the right lines charter

      Principle 1. National Strategy

      High Speed Rail proposals need to be set in the context of a long-term transport strategy stating clear objectives.

      The Government’s High Speed Rail proposals are at present not part of any comprehensive long term transport strategy or nationally agreed priorities. By contrast, all the other countries developing High Speed Rail are doing so within a national framework. Objectives need to be ambitious yet realistic and could include: reducing the need to travel, improving rail capacity and connectivity throughout the country, reducing regional economic disparities and ending dependence on oil.

      A particular challenge for a UK strategy is to tackle rising carbon emissions from land transport swiftly. The Committee on Climate Change says¹ that at least a 60% cut in domestic emissions is needed by 2030 to be on the path to secure a 90% cut (equivalent to 80% once emissions from international aviation and shipping are factored in) by 2050. High Speed Rail therefore needs to be planned and justified as a strategic element of a sustainable, near zero carbon transport system.

      ………OK so thats the blurb. What does it mean to me as an ordinary human being? I think it means having alot more discussion, research, debate coming from a much wider body of experts and ordinary human beings, alot more thought going into transport infrastructure as a whole, coming up with sensible solutions for Britain that have to be ecologically, environmentally and carbon footprint sensitive. i think thats what the public want.

      I know some people think that global warming has been over exagerated and that we should not worry about the energy issue with HS2, after all if we cut red tape we can start mining and burning coal and then our energy problems will be solved. I think global warming is a real threat, I’ve got no problem with burning coal as long as we tax the carbon and spend the tax on cutting carbon emissions in the third world and on protecting the rain forest – thereby neutralising our carbon footprint on a global basis. Energy needs to remain expensive and we need to be efficient with it.

      • At least someone has had a go at it….

        In reality, the UK transport infrastructure is very mature, and it pretty much does what it says on the tin. We can all get about to where we want to with ease, whether it be by car, bus, train or plane. Of course the choices we make come at a price, both environmentally and in our pockets. But we are free to make our choice…..and judging by the BBC news this morning, it seems we are continuing to vote for rail.

        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-13329027

        Lou – I d have to disagree with your burning coal comment…..here in the UK , we have run down our coal industry and rightly so. I m all for alternatives such as jet fuel made from the likes of algae etc, indeed Qantas, British Airways and Virgin are seriously looking at this. There will be a mega industry associated with this in the years to come…..

        • I’d be really interested in that Gary. I think this website should have an information section on lots of green and environmental issues not just relating to HS2. We all need to be educated alot more about the science and development of green issues. We should not just limit ourselves to HS2 but be looking at a broader picture as well.

          • Hi lou, our website resources are limited, and don’t stretch to including a wider environmental section, of the type you suggest. Sorry to disappoint!

          • Lou, I appreciate your concerns, and echo them. ONLY please remember that this website is specifically aimed at providing a forum/information to assist in the opposition of HS2. There are any number of websites you can access to inform you of national green issues.

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