Observing the HS2 damage, removing protection

Yesterday, the Observer covered HS2 and the backbench rebellion that is taking off, of MPs quietly opposed to HS2.

An important issue was put into one short paragraph:

The debate will play into the increasingly bitter row over the government’s proposals to relax planning laws. “As the proposed route runs through the Chilterns, an area of outstanding natural beauty, other areas of outstanding natural beauty should no longer feel safe,” said Penny Gaines of Stop HS2.

As we reported, following Any Questions from Aylesbury in August, it is comforting to assume that the problems faced by other areas do not apply to your nearby special area with legal protection, whether it’s the New Forest  or the Peak District National Park.

But the issue is not whether the Chilterns is more, or less beautiful then Suffolk, or Yorkshire, or Cornwall. The issue is whether legal protection for scenic areas is worth having. Because, once large-scale development in certain areas is allowed, in spite of legal protection, it will be much easier for developers to get round legal protection in other areas.

The objections might be different if the environment was likely to gain from HS2. It’s not: the Green party opposes HS2, as do numerous other environmental organisations.

What is clear is that by 2026, before a single train has run, there will have been massive environmental damage during construction, including to 21 ancient woods, and 160 SSSIs. But running HS2 will be merely carbon neutral (according to Philip Hammond, Secretary of State for Transport): because the majority of passengers (65% according to HS2 Ltd) will have transferred from the classic rail network, with very few (13%) from road or air travel.

If you care about the proposed changes to the planning laws, you have to care about HS2.

Because in return for the damage caused by HS2, the principle of legal protection for the environment will be gone.

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6 comments on “Observing the HS2 damage, removing protection
  1. Economic benefits of HS2 will be double the cost?? I don’t think so, it is probably more accurate to say that the eventual cost, should it go ahead, will be double the original estimate! Millions have been spent on this already, very much like the centralised emergency call centres which were then scrapped. That project was also promoted as the right thing and an improvement to the existing service and why oh why is HS1 suddenly being referred to as a great sucess that the people of Kent are happy to have?

  2. how do the people in alsager know this ? the route hasnt been defined yet and we havent even had the go ahead for the first stage yet.

    and whilst some people will be affected by hs2 many many more will benefit directly or indirectly. since the overall economic benefits of hs2 are at least double the costs it puzzles me as to why anyone thinks that the tax payer will somehow suffer when in fact they will benefit.

    i also presume that as the new law is not in effect yet that hs2 will in any case be governed by the planning laws as they now stand. i dont believe we should make it easier to build on greenfield sites but the transport and houses and work places will have to be built somewhere. the planning process takes far too long. this makes the situation actually worse for anyone affected as it greatly lengthens the blight period and causes undue stress. it also means that if a project such as hs2 is approved it will cost more.

    it will also be important to see how the new planning regime ties in with the localism bill. i think even under the current system we have to recognise that there is a bias in approving such projects especially in times of economic slump like now.

    • Planning permission will be done in the Hybrid Bill not be the revised planning system. I feel the route will not go anywhere need the village of Alsager. So the vocal people there can relaz. It will go up though Endon and then skirt around the North of Congelton.

  3. I have an e-petition set up that is aimed directly at this very topic of AONB and HS2. Whilst I have no wish to divert attention from the official anti HS2 petition I have deliberately targeted mine on the environmental impact, specifically the Chiltern AONB and directed it towards the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs rather than the Department of transport. Please have a look at the petition at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/2033 .

  4. Very good points Penny. It sometimes feels that this Government seem hell bent on doing the wrong thing in regard to real quality of life and the environment. To their credit they dropped the plan to sell off various publicy owned forests but then it was a stupid proposal in the first place as is HS2 and the relaxation of the planning laws.

    The impact HS2 will have on the areas it passes through and the huge cost both financial and environmentally is slowly being realised by people whi, initially may have been for it, or didn;t care. Cameron and Co talk about the big society and local communities taking decisions and responsibility but their actions on things that matter to local communities show utter contempt for those very communities.

    A big push is needed to get both these proposals killed off and burried before it’s too late!

    • I keep up with the comments on the original petition and it appears that a place called Alsager east of Crewe has realised it could be split in two by the HS2.These people obviously have nt been able to join in the consultation.The fact that should it go ahead it is a long way into the future means that many will not bother about something that may not happen when so many are having enough difficaulties with life (cost of living etc).I do hope that the polititions in the north will get lots of letters from those who realise they will suffer destruction of communities paid for by ALL OF US THAT PAY TAXES.

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