With the High Speed Rail (Preparation) Bill due for it’s second reading on Tuesday, it’s fascinating to see how the Department for Transport and the Coalition government are slowly brushing aside their initial reason for building HS2.
In 2010, the Coalition Programme for Government said (p31):
“We will establish a high speed rail network as part of our programme of measures to fulfil our joint ambitions for creating a low carbon economy. Our vision is of a truly national high speed rail network for the whole of Britain. Given financial constraints, we will have to achieve this in phases.”
Stop HS2 and others studied the documents carefully, and found HS2 was not a low carbon option. By 2011, even the Department for Transport acknowledged that HS2 was carbon neutral in operation.
In the Explanatory Notes for the High Speed Rail (Preparation) Bill, it refers to the Programme for Government, but completely misses any reference to the desire for a low carbon economy.
“3. The 2010 Coalition Programme for Government included a commitment to establish a national high speed rail network and to do so in phases.”
By the time the Draft Environmental Statement came out in May this year, HS2 Ltd were acknowledging that there are other transport alternatives which are lower carbon ( Draft Environmental Statement: Introduction to the Draft Environmental Statement and the Proposed Scheme)
“1.1.2 The Government’s vision is for a transport system which is an engine for economic growth, and which is safer, greener and improves quality of life in our communities….”
“2.6.3 …Whilst a high speed line may not necessarily be the lowest-carbon solution, it is considered to offer the optimum balance between carbon reduction and economic benefits.”
There is still time to put pressure on your MP to vote against the Preparation Bill. We’ve updated the message on http://www.highspeedrail.org.uk/, so please use that tool, or contact your MP in your normal way.