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An open letter to the Campaign to Protect Rural England

An open letter to the Campaign to Protect Rural England

It beggars belief that you think anyone who knows your position on HS2 would sign your new campaign to ‘save the countryside’. That campaign calls for ‘a fair say for communities’, ‘sensitive development’ and a stop to developments in inappropriate places. HS2 denies all of these things and yet you have refused to campaign to stop it.

You have systematically declined to defend a huge swathe of country side along Phase 1 of the route; and now your Phase 2 advice is that communities should just engage with alternative ideas and solutions for HS2 through their areas and all will be well.

What do you think we have been doing for 3 years? Nothing but putting positive alternatives to HS2 and yet the line through our area (Offchurch) has got worse for the countryside at every iteration since the main route consultation. Further, HS2 Ltd have certainly not taken on any of our suggestions for mitigation, and not made any attempt to avoid ancient woodland. To tell Phase 2 that they should just co-operate with HS2Ltd, is cynical in the extreme.

Not only that but you have not even been arguing for change to one of the most basic design flaws of HS2 – a track designed for speeds of 400kph, faster than anything in the world and despite the repeated statements from Government that HS2 is about capacity not speed. Whatever else is wrong with HS2, just reducing the speed so that it does not require a straight line, would allow for the possibility to go around some of the most sensitive bits of countryside. But you have not even been arguing for that.

And even if improvements could be gained along Phase 2, that does nothing to justify or annul the destruction to the countryside of the Phase 1 route.

On your webiste 14 March 2013 discussing HS2, you talk about the need for “joined-up strategies to regenerate northern towns and cities, drastically reduce carbon emissions from transport and extend the rural rail network” but it is precisely these things that HS2 will not bring about and will take the funding away from. It is those who oppose HS2 that put forward this alternative approach to rail infrastructure development.

I have completely lost confidence in CPRE’s apparent concern to defend the countryside. Given your actual record on HS2, it is nothing but empty rhetoric to say that you care for the countryside; and bald cheek to ask all of us to join with you in to defending the countryside.

Yours faithfully,

M. A. Wahlberg

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13 comments to “An open letter to the Campaign to Protect Rural England”
  1. I can not believe hs 2 can not find or publish there board room minutes ,why? Perhaps they are saving.money as they are over budget .who knows the smoke and mirrors this government company doing just what it wants to do nothing suprises me .they blame every body else or never give answers to any questions asked just spin .how they get away running a company responsibley with a unlimited budget of billions of our money it’s a discrete .they all should be held to account for all the waste of money they loose

  2. With all the latest news against hs2 ,it seems hs2 are having to pull on all of there big guns to give maney promises they can not guarantee as we down south have been finding out ,just remember they will tell you anything on the running of there so called consultion just all remember they have got to keep to tithe budgets .so they can not give you any more than they will tell you on release of the line ,do not think about any wish list if this project goes ahead you will very disappointed .just think about how maney more far more things they could do with 50 100 billion that we can all make use of not just the rich to knock a few mins of there journey times I can not believe how the govenment thinks this is a good idea if it is they should give the MPs the vote without the whip or give the major towns the choice of spending the money on hs2 or projects that they would prefer for own towns .as it is at the moment they have no choice other than hs2 or nothing that is why better to have hs2 than nothing

  3. The contigent value of the Chilterns is of ever increasing value and benefit to the Country as a whole for eternity if properly managed.
    In 30 years time its (undamaged) value will have soared.
    There is no hologram of nature.
    HS2 is an appalling threat to this nationally and internationally recognized resource.
    Central CPRE should have campaigned for the Kent Rules and the use of transport corridors and come out hard against HS2 in its current alignment.
    It appears some at head office were personally acquainted with the genitors of HS2.
    They cannot hand on heart support any part of the plan for the Chilterns Route and indeed the route as planned. If then they are at logger heads with academia and most informed opinion.
    CPRE is a pressure group, reliant on charitable donations and perhaps its day is done. Certainly HS2 has been a nadir in terms of reputation.
    They thought they were trading rail for roads.
    Silly B******s they now have both threatened (they were politically outmanouvred) and sadly they are so discredited no one wants to wipe away their crocodile tears.
    The real sadness is that CPRE is not democratic and much of the valuable work and campaigning done by regional CPRE has been undermined by the London head office.
    But then the organization could demand some heads to roll and refine its stance.
    I think CPRE needs its own internal inquiry!

    • “…trading rail for roads…they now have both threatened…” so does this imply that opposition to a proposed railway should be pursued, while any major road scheme- such as the remodelled A.422/M.1 junction south east of Milton Keynes, or the new section of the A.11,currently carving its way through the Elvedon forest, six lanes -the existing road with a dual carriageway built beside it; these should, in contrast, be accepted and taken for granted- even welcomed as we enjoy uncontrolled access and forget the vast swathe of land consumed, once the immediate scars have begun to heal?
      I say once again that I believe that so many are applying a double standard when considering road and rail schemes.
      Our personal freedom and convenience allows many of us to shrug off the damage resulting from expanded and speeded up bypass roads,decorated as they are so frequently, with a scattered border of dead rabbits,cats badgers and small deer-“saves ten minutes on my journey…” but propose to create a new rail bypass link….”I wouldn’t use it , so what possible purpose could it serve?”

      • Just contextualizing my commnent on CPRE, nothing to do with central transport policy per se or road use

        NO the point was that CPRE were representing that Rail would protect from road development which they considered worst (it is in the papers and part of their documentation) Hence their committment to HS2.
        Nothing more than that.
        Indeed under guidance CPRE and many other orgs RSPB,National Trust signed up to some ethical rail charter pre HS2 which since seems to have dissipated and there are no recent agendas /minutes of meetings.

        A government determined that infrastructure spend is the way to boost the economy will of course do both road and rail they have powerful lobbies for both, The plan is for privatization of the authority in control of motorways and trunk roads

        • I agree with you Paul that the CPRE position is that rail development is preferred to road and said so in my blog “I’m trying to understand you” (http://hs2andtheenvironment.wordpress.com/2012/06/16/im-trying-to-understand-you). However, may I also refer you to comments that I made to vtiman and Peter Davidson on 10th July (http://stophs2.org/news/8830-a-meeting-of-minds#comments) that whether HS2 goes ahead or not is unlikely to have any impact on road building plans. Opposing HS2 does not therefore imply accepting increased road building or upgrades.

          • I am really against any major de nuovo developments in prime countryside and certainly AONB; Road, Rail or huge housing estates.
            There are environmentally more subtle and sustainable options that should be used first.
            Green site is cheap and that is why HS2 consumes so much of it rather than using transport corridors. If you look at the maps it seems the line chews its way through important countryside through its entire route.

            The Bechstein Bat issue is a case in point.
            http://www.bucksherald.co.uk/news/more-news/bats-could-be-showstopper-for-hs2-plans-1-3126016
            I think we should adopt it as one of several mascots.

            The Wild Life Trust asks HS2 to undertake urgent surveys in respect of this very rare and highly EU protected species.
            Guess what?
            The ministers associated with HS2 ltd seem full of propaganda and short on important facts.

            I watched Rt Hon Liddington ask of Rt Hon Hammond about the bat; he replied
            “No assessments have yet been undertaken on the effects of the HS2 proposal on Bechstein’s bats in the Bernwood Forest, as this issue is very much at a local level.”

            This ‘local level’ excuse is given out by HS2 as a mantra, according to them the problems in the Chilterns will be local/county or metropolitan.
            This flies in the face of the State of Nature Report; we now know that all significant areas of ecological and environmental significance must now be viewed as being of National significance.

            Ask HS2 ltd to conduct a survey and I can guarantee their finding will be permissive for them whatever the impartial academic truth.
            The DES was very badly undertaken and was a cynical permissive instrument for the benefit of HS2 ltd.
            What we need is an independent scientific survey by people of quality and academic probity and in fact with all the vested economic and environmental disparities with the scheme I am minded that the only real answer is a full Judicial Public Inquiry.

            I was watching a documentary on planning in the 50-60s when more damage was done to architectural UK by planners and the Government than by the Nazi’s. It was done for ‘growth’ and in a spirit of ill founded optimism and overconfidence based on the power of the atom and technology.

            Watching the Newsnight interview with Alison Monroe and Rail Minister Simon Burns their recitation of stock PR soundbites, closed minds and sense of arrogance reminded me of the post-war Clement Attlee and the ‘brave new world’ crowd.
            Social engineering, building communities etc all that is planned for HS2 and we already know from the 1960s tends to fail. ‘Organic’ growth is optimal.
            The constantly mutating ‘concept’ of HS2 (speed, international competition, capacity, engine of growth) is built on these very same discredited principles.
            I

      • ….. more like can’t use it because there isn’t anywhere that I can get on it for almost 100 miles.

        I’m against HS2 ( you might have noticed – I happen to think the cost is way more than is sensible to spend ) but you would have more argument if you said we need a new line and we are going to have ( a ) a number of more stops ( whilst still giving some journey time savings to Manchester and Birmingham ) and ( b ) made much more of an attempt to follow existing transport corridors. But, despite what is said, the politicians still have the old hang up about wanting the fastest speeds despite us already having some of the quickest journey times.

      • AS I SEE IT , IN THIS SMALL COUNTRY YOU CAN TRAVEL EASILY ALREADY TO REACH MOST PLACES IN A DAY BUT PEOPLE TALK AS IF WE’RE STILL USING HORSES AND CARTS AND TAKING DAYS AND DAYS TO GET TO PLACES.WILL OUR ECONOMY REALLY BENEFIT FROM GETTING TO A PLACE SAY AN HOUR OR SO QUICKER? I DON’T THINK SO BUT IF WE CARRY ON AND ON PUTTING CONCRETE DOWN WE WILL END UP WITH PROBLEMS;SURELY: LESS LAND FOR FOOD GROWING WITH THE [EXPENSIVE] RESULT WE HAVE TO IMPORT MORE, LESS BEAUTIFUL PLACES TO ATTRACT TOURISTS WITH A LOSS OF INCOME, POORER QUALITY OF LIFE. POLITICIANS TALK ENDLESSLY OF GROWTH BUT WE CAN’T CARRY ON LIKE THIS OR WE WILL ‘OUTGROW’ OUR ENVIRONMENT.YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE AN ENVIRONMENTALIST TO SEE THIS AND THIS ECONOMIC COLLAPSE WAS FORSEEN LONG BEFORE IT ACTUALLY HAPPENED , CAUSED BY GREED ,STUPIDITY AND LACK OF CONCERN FOR PEOPLE.POLITICIANS ARE NOW TRYING TO ENCOURAGE THE VERY GREED THAT CAUSED IT AND THE WHOLE THING WILL HAPPEN AGAIN IF WE AREN’T CAREFUL.ECONOMIC GROWTH AT THE EXPENSE OF OUR LIVING ENVIRONMENT WON’T WORK AND WILL GIVE FUTURE GENERATIONS HUGE PROBLEMS.

        GEORGE OSBORNE WITH HIS STATEMENT THAT WE CAN’T WORRY ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT [AND SOCIETY] IN A RECESSION IS THAT OF A MAN OF LITTLE INTELLIGENCE IN MY OPINION AND A DANGEROUS ONE TOO.

        ALL MY LIFE I’VE CAMPAIGNED FOR GOOD PUBLIC TRANSPORT AND ALL SILLY POLITICIANS OF ALL PARTIES COULD DO WAS ALLOW HUGE RISES IN FARES, SPLIT THE RAILWAYS UP AND CLOSE LINES AND BUS SERVICES.

        BY 2033 WHEN THE PROPOSED HS2 IS FINISHED THE COSTS WILL HAVE SPIRALLED MASSIVELY, SURELY.I CAN THINK OF FAR BETTER THINGS TO DO WITH THIS MONEY.

        I HAVE LOST ALL FAITH IN THE PEOPLE RUNNING, OR DO I MEAN RUINING, THIS COUNTRY AND IN ALL POLITICIANS.

        I’M SURE SOME OF THE POLITICIANS WANT THIS SCHEME BECAUSE THEIR PARTIES WILL GET VOTES, FUNDING ETC FROM THOSE WHO WILL BENEFIT FROM IT.

        IT’S ALL VERY EASY TO SAY THE NORTH WILL BENEFIT FROM HS2 OR THAT A CERTAIN RAIL/ROAD SCHEME WILL DO THIS OR THAT BUT WHAT ABOUT THE COSTS TO RUINED COMMUNITIES, FARMLAND AND SO ON.PUTTING HUGE ROADS THROUGH NATIONAL PARKS TO GET ECONOMIC GROWTH MAY NOT WORK ANYWAY AND IT IS VANDALISM AKIN TO SMASHING UP WESTMINSTER CATHEDRAL IF THAT WOULD MAKE SOME MONEY.

        SURELY AS [SUPPOSEDLEY] THE MOST INTELLIGENT SPECIES ON EARTH WE CAN FIND A WAY TO PROSPER FINANCIALLY WITHOUT RUINING OUR WONDERFUL PLACES.

        USE ALL THIS MONEY TO CREATE JOBS DIRECTLY NOW

        SORRY TO GO BUT I FEEL REAL DESPAIR WITH THIS COUNTRY AND WILL BE SO ASHAMED IF WE DON’T FIND WAYS TO CARE/PROTECT OUR WONDERFUL HERITAGE AND HELP PEOPLE AS WELL.

        MARK

        • Mark ,You have written what I have said from the start of this monster plan.I feel as do many others ,the frustration, that we have people in charge of our money and our country that only have one aim and that is to make themselves money.Why is it that these people get into such positions? Few of those that care ever get a look in, because they want people in charge who have no heart or feelings.I take heart in the fact that at long last the articles in the papers are showing that the negative side to HS2. I searched hard, but could not find a positive one.
          Write your feelings to the papers as I have done if your voice is heard perhaps ,just perhaps those people will realise that we are not taken in by their con and they may loose their jobs if they continue to behave as they are.

          • YOU MAY NOT BE ABLE TO ‘PUBLISH’ THIS BECAUSE OF SOME OF MY SILLY REMARKS BUT IT GOT THINGS OFF MY CHEST.I TAKE THE CAUSE TOTALLY SERIOUSLY BUT OUR ARROGANT POLITICIANS NEED SOME FUN POKED AT THEM.SO FULL OF THEMSELVES!

            THANKS ELAINE. SO MANY PEOPLE ARE IN POLITICS FOR POWER AND EGO SADLY, THOUGH THERE ARE SOME GOOD ONES.

            I WAS A LIBERAL DEMOCRAT BECAUSE I HAVE NOTHING AGAINST PEOPLE MAKING MONEY OR HAVING THEIR OWN BUSINESSES BUT THERE ARE LIMITS AND IN DOING SO I BELIEVE YOU SHOULD TREAT PEOPLE AND THE ENVIRONMENT WELL AND HELP THE LESS FORTUNATE IN OUR SOCIETY..I HAVE TOLD THEM NOW I WILL NOT GIVE THEM MONEY OR VOTE FOR THEM UNTIL I SEE THEM SPEAKING UP AGAINST ENVIRONMENTAL DESTRUCTION AND STANDING UP FOR THE LESS ABLE IN OUR SOCIETY.I FEEL UTTERLY LET DOWN BY THEM.

            I SAW THERE MAY BE FLOODING ON THE HS2 ROUTE BUT HAS THIS MADE THEM STOP AND THINK? NO! AS I UNDERSTAND IT THEY’VE SAID THEY’LL GIVE COMPENSATION TO ANYONE FLOODED. MORE PREVENTABLE WASTAGE OF PUBLIC MONEY! [‘SORRY MRS. BROWN WE DIDN’T MEAN TO DROWN YOU, BUT HERE’S 2000 QUID YOU’VE PAID US IN TAX!! AT LEAST YOUR RELATIVES WILL BE ABLE TO GET TO THE FUNERAL 10 MINUTES QUICKER ON OUR NEW TRAIN!’ ]IF I SAW THESE RISKS, AS AN INTELLIGENT, POLITICIAN I’D SAY’ LET’S HOLD ON HERE, WHAT RISKS ARE WE TAKINGAND SLOW DOWN?’TOO MUCH CONCRETE I BELIEVE CAN RESULT IN FLOODING .

            WE MUST KEEP FIGHTING AS I JUST SAW BACK IN MAY THE TORIES LOST CONTROL OF EAST SUSSEX COUNCIL BECAUSE OF THEIR DISGRACEFUL BEHAVIOUR OVER THE BEXHILL LINK ROAD.THEY REFUSED TO LISTEN IT SEEMS AND AS I UNDERSTAND IT LIES AND COVER UPS HAVE OCCURRED OVER THE PRESENCE OF SOME AMAZING ARCHEOLOGICAL SITES IN THE PROPOSED DESTRUCTION [SORRY, I MEAN DEVELOPMENT] AREA.IF OSBORNE WHO SEEMS, TO HATE NATURE, HAS ANY SENSE HE SHOULD TAKE NOTE AND EXPECT A LOT MORE OPPOSITION AS HE ATTEMPTS TO DESTROY EVER MORE OF OUR COUNTRY.BULLIES DON’T ; LIKE IT WHEN PEOPLE FIGHT BACK BUT WE WILL AND THE HS2 AND OTHER SUCH PROJECTS WILL LAST A LONG TIME; 20 YEARS OF PROTESTS ETC WILL COST YOU NASTY PEOPLE A LOT OF MONEY…SO DON’T GET TOO COMPLACENT!.

            ALSO HOPEFULLY SOME OF THESE PEOPLE WILL GET A BLOODY NOSE IN THE ELECTIONS.

            I’M SAD THERE ARE SPLITS AND DISAGREEMENTS IN OUR MOVEMENT BUT THAT’S PEOPLE FOR YOU BUT I WILL SUPPORT ALL WHO I FEEL ARE DOING GOOD IN SOME WAY TO HELP OUR ENVIRONMENT.IF I SUPPORT CPRE, AS I DO , I STILL WANT TO SUPPORT ANTI-HS2 , EVEN THOUGH I KNOW THERE ARE DIFFERENCES OF OPINION.

            GOOD LUCK TO YOU ALL; COOMBE VALLEY DEFENDERS,CPRE, CAT ETC.

            FUNNY YOU MENTION LETTERS TO THE PAPER AS I HAVE JUST TYPED ONE BUT MY PRINTER HAS GONE DOWN I’LL TRY TO SORT IT OUT ASAP

            NOW, DID I READ LONDON PARKS ARE GOING TO CHARGE PEOPLE TO PLAY SPORT IN THEM BECAUSE OF CUTS OR DID I GET THAT WRONG?.THERE JUST ISN’T ANY MONEY FOR SUCH THINGS OF COURSE! SILLY ME! JUST ABOUT 40 MILLION FOR MCCLOUGHLIN’S TRAIN SET THOUGH!

            SOMEONE TOLD ME THE OTHER DAY THAT’ MR. WE CAN’T CARE ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT OSBORNE’ ACTUALLY FAILED HIS ECONOMICS DEGREE;CAN SOMEONE CONFIRM THAT.I WOULD NEVER HAVE BELIEVED IT! IF HE DID PASS, WELL, UNIVERSITIES HAVE BEEN DROPPING THEIR STANDARDS OF LATE .!

            ANYWAY KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK.THEY WILL VILIFY US AS ALL SOCIAL AND OTHER CAMPAIGNERS HAVE BEEN IN THE PAST; SAMUEL PLIMSOLL, SUFFRAGETTES, ANTI -SLAVERY ETC. AT LEAST I WANT TO TRY AND SAVE PRECIOUS PLACES FOR GENERATIONS TO COME AND IF WE END UP WITH ECONOMIC GROWTH BUT NO [PLEASANT] ENVIRONMENT WE ARE ALL STUFFED![AS MANY POLITICIANS SHOULD BE!] YEARS AGO IT WASN’T FASHIONABLE TO SUPPORT FAIRTRADE AND PEOPLE SOMETIMES LAUGHED AT ME BECAUSE I DID BUT I HAVE BEEN INVOLVED WITH IT SINCE 1980 AND NOW IT IS WIDESPREAD.DON’T MEAN TO SOUND BOASTFUL AS OTHERS HAVE DONE MUCH MORE BUT WE MUSN’T GIVE UP!

            OSBORNE SEEMS TO NOT UNDERSTAND THAT OUR WATER, FOOD, AIR ETC ARE ‘THE ENVIRONMENT BUT HE PRESUMABLY WOULD MESS THESE UP IF HE COULD AND POISON US ALL, AS LONG AS SOMEONE MADE A PROFIT FROM IT.’

            OSBORNE, THE SEA IS FULL OF PLASTIC AND IT MAY BE GETTING INTO OUR FOOD AND CAUSING ILLNESS.YOU CAN’T RUIN YOUR LIFE SUPPORT SYSTEMS AND EXPECT THERE TO BE NO NEGATIVE EFFECTS! PLEASE GROW UP AND REALIZE LIFE IS NOT JUST ABOUT ECONOMIC GROWTH AND MONEY BEFORE YOU SEND US ALL TO HELL IN A HANDCART [OR IN YOUR CASE A IN A GAS GUZZLING CAR OR HS2 ]MIND YOU AS LONG AS YOU’RE NOT IN MY HANDCART IT WON’T BE SO BAD.

            ANYWAY THINKING OF SUCH PEOPLE MAKES ME FEEL RATHER NAUSEOUS AND I MUST GO AND TALK TO A MORE INTELLIGENT BEING; HERE ROVER!

            I JOKE BUT I AM TRULY DISGUSTED BY OUR POLITICIANS IN GENERAL.

            THANKS. MARK

  4. At the blank cqe bill committee—

    AQ 133 Lilian Greenwood: Ralph, are you satisfied with HS2 Ltd’s proposed mitigation measures for ancient woodlands? Is there more they could be doing?

    Ralph Smyth: They have announced some tree planting, which is a step forward, but there are still many areas of concern. Again, a lot more detail is needed.

    Wonder what the woodland trust think??

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