Government response to HS2 petition a “Depressingly Predictable Pack of Lies”

The Government has issued a response to an e-petition calling for the HS2 Paving Bill, which calls for Parliament to approve a blank cheque to be withdrawn, following it getting 10,000 signatures. The response has been dismissed by campaigners as easily as the Government dismissed the concerns.

Stop HS2 Campaign Manager, Joe Rukin said:

“Typical with their dismissive attitudes, the Government have tried to make out that the campaign against HS2 is a completely based on NIMBY attitudes, without being willing to accept the real fact that this is about the fact that HS2 is a bad idea which will never deliver on its promises. They say they are ‘keen to engage with concerned parties’,  which in our experience translates as being forced into meetings they don’t want to bother with at which they completely ignore what is being said”

“The Government has said that their ‘draft environmental statement represents the largest environmental impact assessment ever undertaken in the UK’, but the reality is that like every bit of spin associated with HS2, this is just a plain straightforward lie. The Woodland Trust have told us that the last project they were dealing with was a quarry, and it had a larger environmental statement that HS2; the only way in which the HS2 environmental statements can have been the largest the country has ever seen is in it’s cost.”

“They say it is not true to claim that ‘the Government has fabricated any evidence to support the business case for HS2’, despite the fact the business case relies on the stone cold fact that laptops have not yet been invented, because no-one ever works on trains. They say the business case is sound, despite the fact they have had to downgrade the benefit cost ratio three times since the March 2010 announcement, ignoring the fact that since the last time they re-evaluated it, they have admitted a ten billion pound cost increase. They have said they will update the economic case later this year, and quite simply this will involve picking a random number and sticking the word ‘jobs’ after it.”

“They have said that the Paving Bill is ‘vital’ to Britains growth in the future, but the only things it will grow is national debt, rail subsidies and regional inequalities. They have also said it’s essential to make sure compensation payments happen, despite the fact the scheme in place didn’t need the bill and has seen three quarters of applicants turned down. The bottom line is that this response to HS2 petition is a depressingly predictable pack of lies, nothing we wouldn’t have expected.”

The full response to the petition is as follows:

“The Government understands the concern that many people in Britain have over the impact of HS2. Such large infrastructure projects are often accompanied by vocal opposition, and we are, of course, keen to engage with all concerned parties as HS2 moves forward.”

“It is impossible to undertake an infrastructure project of this magnitude and importance without causing a degree of environmental disruption, but we aim to mitigate this as much as possible. Our draft environmental statement represents the largest environmental impact assessment ever undertaken in the UK, and builds on the previous work in the Appraisal of Sustainability.”

“It is not true to claim that the Government has fabricated any evidence to support the business case for HS2. The business case is sound and we are committed to ensuring that it will provide value for money to the taxpayer.”

“Moreover we have committed to reviewing our business case on a regular basis and are planning to update our economic analysis and publish an updated economic case later this year. The economic case forms part of the full business case for HS2. Other documents of the business case consist of the strategic case, the financial case, the commercial case, and the management case.”

“But the business case is just one part of the equation. HS2 will significantly increase capacity on our north-south rail lines, simultaneously bringing the North and South closer together and allowing for significant investment and regeneration in areas outside of London.”

“The High Speed Rail (Preparation) Bill is a big step towards realising this. Once enacted, it will give the Secretary of State powers to begin spending on preparatory works for HS2. This will allow more detailed design and survey work to commence while the hybrid Bill for Phase One makes its way through Parliament.”

“The ‘paving’ Bill is also essential in allowing for the provision of compensation. The Government has undertaken to have a re-consultation on property compensation following the outcome of the Judicial Review earlier this year. The Bill ensures that, whatever the the results of this re-consultation, those affected by HS2 will have access to a fair and generous compensation package.”

“HS2 is a project which is vital to securing Britain’s future growth and ensuring our transport network is prepared for the future. It is a generational project, which will bring benefits for decades to come. The High Speed Rail (Preparation) Bill is a huge step forward in this project, and we do not believe that scrapping it would be in the national interest, either now or in the future.”

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6 comments to “Government response to HS2 petition a “Depressingly Predictable Pack of Lies””
  1. I can’t see how they can state that “The business case is sound” given that HS2 Ltd have admitted that they have not completed their quality assurance checks on the inputs to their computer model and that these inputs may be wrong (and hence any forecasts could be wrong).

    For “sound” I think we should substitute “a load of meaningless noise”.

  2. For Chriseglen two questions one do owners of homes near the project have any grounds under human rights law two if the courts go against the govenment in the next round will we get the costs back for the previous two cases

    • John, I have sent some notes to the web page controller for you. Hope it helps you. The answers to both are unlikely given the litigants and the situation of an authority seeking to assert powers.

  3. Well thats modern ‘spun’ democracy and it shows that the ‘e’ petition scheme is yet more pseudo-democratic PR b******s.
    Only govt syntonic issues will be addressed. The dissonant are ignored or brushed aside.

    So many reports and enquiries on all manner of issues recently and all the outcomes are spun to the point of anondyne, soothing, reassuring …its all going to be alright……..(just vote for us!)
    An at the heart of it a complacent, patronizing political class who forget they are elected to serve and believe themselves better than the electorate they represent (and who are so riddled with lobbyists and donors who really are those that call the shots).

    The departmental response to the petition is of the quality of a 1950s public service add or soap advert.

    Complete non response and I fear will represent the way that the whole matter will be dealt with.

    In the [parliamentary] recess HS2ltd, lts and their spin monkeys and PR machine is in overdrive as evidenced by the constant ministerial speeches, PR etc that is being placed in press/media/social network. (easily checked on Google news 24hr or hrly)

  4. The Law Courts are key to determine there are EU and national SEA/EIA requirements to apply to ensure the planning/design processes leading to the proposal of infrastructure the HS2 Route 3 are not shortcut as HS2 has done in 2009 to early 2011. The hybrid bill process has no checks and balances to remedy and repair the shortcomings of Route 3 one track each way countyside destructive corridor. It is important to test the conflict of Laws and constitutional Law regarding the weakness of the hybrid bill process when primary planning and design is detached from county and local authority planning. When Parliament is competent everyone can sleep easy but when Parliament does not bring balance then we as a nation have a problem. So it is with the next 100 years of growing population, the ideas of sustainability and the needs for more and wider roads and railways. HS2 as an embryonic authority did not engage with the strategic issues of Counties and Local Authorities in 2009 to 2011 to determine the route and the transport objectives. Route 3 one track each way is not a solution to deliver the newly declared hub and spoke and local transport needs. HS2 is being challenged in the courts because people and authorities say HS2 has got the route 3 plan wrong. The landowners can now help for the first time to support the court challenges which enable them to expect Government to apply more care in the early stages of planning and design. HS2 did not agree Route 3 with each County or main Local Authority. Why not this should be a pre-requisite of such a significant impact on those that adminster the large areas being told to accommodate the HS2 Route 3 with little contribution. HS2 and the DFT and the PM are committed to demonstrate the UK is not minded to best solutions but easier deploymens. For the future it is wise to establish the preliminary steps before embarking on such significant projects. HS2 Route selection was not undertaken with the involvements of the communities. The challenge in the Courts require support to establish that HS2 was not undertaken with adequate preliminary work.

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