Appalled Citizen, Not a Nimby

This is a guest post by Iain, who tweets as @HS2isawaste.

HS2 protesters have often been accused of localism, nimbyism and self-interest. I certainly have. It’s true that I live in the Chilterns and will suffer in the build phase. But that’s not why I want to bring this terrible waste of money to the attention of people all over Britain. I want to let them know how bad this proposition is.

I recently faced the accusation that I was inconsistent and a Nimby because I did not stand up against the government when it was considering the Jubilee Line Extension, which had a worse “Business Case Return” than that currently proposed for HS2; I was only opposing HS2 as it was in my backyard.

Quite frankly, I had no particular interest in the Jubilee Line scheme; I’m not a rail enthusiast, a local or close to government transport machinations. I knew it was going on but trusted, as I used to, that the government was doing the right thing.

When HS2 came along, I was horrified, but expected to have the inexorable logic laid before me and (probably with little grace and some harrumphing) admit the greater need. But, as you will see from other posts on this site, when we opened the consultation box, we found that the business case is based on unrealistic assumptions, the environmental impact has not been assessed, it is not green, the strategic benefits are questionable, and the money could be better spent on other things.

Ministers and supporters keep changing the arguments for this project, as protesters shoot down their previous ones.

So, I discovered the appalling value of HS2 because I’m a local. But I’m opposing it wholeheartedly because it is really poor value and doesn’t make sense. And I want to ensure that others elsewhere understand that the government intends to spend £33Billion (minimum) on a white elephant.

Locals take an interest because we are local. When we understand the enormity of the proposition, we act as appalled citizens. I’m an appalled citizen, only appalled because I took an interest. I only looked into it because I live here.

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12 comments to “Appalled Citizen, Not a Nimby”
  1. I have just signed the Natural Trust/Planning petition .If the government can lower the planning laws i believe it will aid them to develop areas around the hs2 line if it is built.If there is a railway then they will want to build around it.Whilst i know that there is a need for housing i
    believe that there are areas that should be protected .

  2. I see no problem with being a NIMBY. There are millions of debates going on around the world, some of which i am aware of and on some of which i have an informed opinion, but i do feel more duty bound to aid local government and to research and respond to something that affects me personally. I may not be an expert, but we do have access to much of the same misinformation as the experts. Do remember, as history proves, to multiply costs by 3 and divide benefits by 3.

  3. I feel the same as Iain and did think that the gvt.and experts knew best .hs2 would come near but not in my back yard ,I had to fight against a childrens nursery being set up in completely the wrong place some years ago and i realised that those supposedly in the know were not always right.It seemed the more i looked into HS2 the worse it looked and I am not going to list names but there a plenty of experts that are against it and they are not biased as are those who are for that will gain financially from it.So if you call us nimbys what are they?The Councils are difficault people to convince yet they have come out in forse and still more are doing so.We are talking about all sorts of folk who although they represent an area as a whole few would live near the proposed line and could vote how they wished( as in the case of the nursery mentioned ).The majority have decided that it is not a just and sensible project.Can you remember a time when they have agreed like thisPeter?

  4. @Iain: “I recently faced the accusation that I was inconsistent and a Nimby because I did not stand up against the government when it was considering the Jubilee Line Extension, which had a worse “Business Case Return” than that currently proposed for HS2; I was only opposing HS2 as it was in my backyard.”

    Quite frankly, I had no particular interest in the Jubilee Line scheme; I’m not a rail enthusiast, a local or close to government transport machinations. I knew it was going on but trusted, as I used to, that the government was doing the right thing.

    Paint it any way you like @Iain – your statement above means that you weren’t interested until a project impacted upon your locality – in my book that means NIMBY, whether you like it or not.

    Suddenly you’ve decided to become an expert in all manner of technical issues related to this project, suddenly you know all about the importance of return on investment ratio targets for large public infrastructure projects, suddenly you’ve decided that you can extend an informed opinion about the complex environmental impact of large infrastructure projects?

    Speaking as someone who doesn’t pretend to know everything about these matters, but someone likely to be impacted by phase 2 of the project (the new line will probably run between 2.5 and 3.5km from my house), I tend to leave these issues to the real experts, who have been involved in the industry for years and actually know what they’re talking about – you know, people such as Michael Roberts (CEO of ATOC), Richard Eccles (Director of Network Planning, Network Rail), Anthony Smith CEO of Passenger Focus), Lord Berkeley (Chairman, Rail Freight Group), Nicholas Petrovic (CEO of Eurostar) and Pierre Messulam (Rail Strategy and Regulation Director, SNCF)

    Might just be coincidental and I’m sure you’d offer the explanation that these people all work in the industry (so why bite the hand that feeds you) but all of the above are generally in favour of proceeding with HS2. These experts are all aware of the facts surrounding this complex topic, yet they’ve come to the opposite conclusion you’ve arrived at – are you saying that these experts are all fools and you’re correct?

    Still, your proximity to the proposed line of route does tend to raise some question marks about your impartiality in this matter – wouldn’t you agree?

    • Peter, only people living within 1 km of the proposed HS2 route were informed by DfT of the travelling HS2 Exhibition, so presumably they would have us believe that those living any further away, like you, will not be impacted. Are you reassured?

      As for your quoted experts, would you seriously expect executives of Eurostar and SNCF not to be in favour of HS2? Honestly, now?

      Now about this Nimby business. The ‘greenest-ever’ Government plans to open up a new transport corridor through open countryside without consideration (via EIA) for the damage it will do to the areas affected. This despite all the fine words about protecting the environment and reports on benefits to health of tranquil open spaces. So it’s left to concerned local people and local county councils (or Nimbies, to you) to fight to preserve their AONB, ancient woodland, tranquil countryside accessible only on foot or just plain green belt for future generations, while hoping to persuade the Government to save that money (if they ever have it) to use on something more beneficial to more people. And don’t ignore the off-route (non-Nimby!) councils that have also voted to oppose HS2. Personally, I’m just glad to be able to get involved, and have a small army of expats (non-Nimby) encouraging me.
      So, Nimby? ‘Sticks and stones …!’ as they say in the playground. Not really a word to use in an adult discussion or pronouncement, a point which has already been made to the Secretary of State for Transport.

    • Although not living anywhere near the proposed HS2 line my wife and I were most interested in seeing the exhibition, the heralding of a new era in our history.
      We went into the sound booth to listen to the noise the HS2 would generate. The loudest noise we heard was a bird call. We called one of the accredited experts over believing the sound booth was faulty, but he insisted not only was it a valid recording but he was actually there when it was made. Without exception every single visitor present who heard the ensuing argument between us agreed that the sound recording was not a true one. The gentleman did us all an injustice by making us believe that we were liars and basically NIMBYS whereas in fact we had lived not 100 metres away from the TVR line near Poitiers and knew exactly what the noise was like.
      Both my wife and I are concerned that this Government will stop at nothing to get this line built, and after collecting the mandatory 100,000 signatures to be told that we have to start again because now only members of the public with access to the patchy broadband in rural areas are entitled to vote on the issue is not only undemocratic but should be judicially challenged in a court of law.
      If the signatures have been collected then there is no legal reason why they cannot be publicly presented to the Government under the media spotlight as a voice of the people they are supposed to represent.

      • @jason: The gentleman did us all an injustice by making us believe that we were liars and basically NIMBYS whereas in fact we had lived not 100 metres away from the TVR line near Poitiers and knew exactly what the noise was like.

        @jason – your anecdotal response might carry more credence but for the fact that there is currently no high speed rail line near Poitiers?

        The concession contract for the future South Europe Atlantic high-speed rail (SEA HSR) between Tours and Bordeaux was signed the 16 June 2011 by the concession company LISEA and Réseau Ferré de France.. The line currently operating in proximity to Poitiers is a classic line. The new LGV (Lignes à Grande Vitesse) passing close to Poitiers will come into operation circa 2018
        https://www.railwaygazette.com/nc/news/single-view/view/tours-bordeaux-concession-signed.html
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGV_Sud_Europe_Atlantique

        It helps if you get your facts right?

        • So your point is that @Jason lived near a classic line on which TGV’s run at up to 220kmh (per your wikipedia link) rather than a dedicated HSR line on which TGV’s will run at 300kmh? I think most people would forgive him for describing this as a “TVR line near Poitiers”

          • @David

            No my point (which you are also studiously avoiding) is that the existing line is not built to the same standard and does not have the same mitigating features built into it, which any brand new line will have.

            The time to jugdge whether or not the line is instrusive or not (in terms of noise ingress) is when TGVs are operating on purpose built lines

            So readers should not forgive @jason for deliberately misrepresenting the facts

            • @ peter davidson. You mention additional mitigation that HS2 will have (details to be confirmed) but not the additional speed at which it will travel compared to the TGV on the Poitiers line and the consequent increase in noise (other things being equal). It is entirely possible that the extra speed of HS2 could more than offset the extra mitigation and that the noise could be worse than that experienced by @jason. Does this count as deliberate misrepresentation?

        • My thanks to David for pointing out my error; I am sure that the majority of you more knowledgeable and worldly wise readers recognised my mistake immediately. It does highlight two things though, if one could not hear oneself speak when the train passed at that speed what will one sound like travelling even faster, and secondly, why are some people so eager to jump on such understandable confusion between two very fast trains, unless of course Peter is actually ignorant of the existence them on the continent, in which case he should not be trying to persuade us how good they are. But I thank him anyway for highlighting the enormity of the noise that will be heard if people like him encourage the project to go ahead regardless of the financial burden it will place upon us taxpaying public just so they can get to London faster.
          As an aside how is it he is able to use bold print to highlight his argument and we are not?

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