TINKERING WITH HS2 ROUTE DOES NOT MAKE IT VIABLE AS OLYMPIC LEGACY DESTROYED BY NEW PROPOSAL.
In a typical display of the incompetency and contradiction HS2 Ltd, the Government-owned company set up to implement the new high speed rail link announced they were proposing minor changes to the route of HS2 on 8th September 2010. Whilst stating that the proposal “Includes moving further from centres of population or sensitive sites”, the route has moved closer to several of the larger towns on the plans, such as Kenilworth and Southam, and lowering the level of the line will make it more intrusive in flood-prone areas. Campaigners who contacted members of the press in affected areas were surprised that in many cases that they had to forward emails with details of the plans as the HS2 Ltd press office had neglected to send them out to newspapers and radio stations along the route.
The proposed changes do not change STOP HS2’s view of the proposed new rail link. STOP HS2 campaigner, Penny Gaines said;
“HS2 say this does not affect the overall business case for their proposed rail link. That’s because tinkering with the route will not suddenly make thousands more people decide they need to go to London but the HS2 business case relies on 267% increase in passenger numbers.”
“The overall environmental case is not improved. Building the proposed new rail link will cause a massive increase in carbon emissions. Minor changes to the route still mean that high speed trains emit at least 65% more carbon per passenger as conventional trains, and that’s if the fantasy that is the passenger forecast can be believed. Minor changes to the proposed route will have no effect on the numbers of flights between Birmingham and London, because there are no flights between Birmingham and London.”
“In addition, without seeing the maps – which for some reason won’t be published for two or three weeks – nobody knows exactly how they will be affected by the changes. I would say they were cynically trying to get a positive news story this week, then again in three weeks of so, then again when they announce mitigation [noise and visual impact] measures which they aren’t looking at yet. I would say that, but they didn’t bother telling most of the press along the line.”
Changes to the plan including rerouting the line through the National Agricultural Centre at Stoneleigh Park, which as one of the foremost equestrian centres in the country, is set to be a training and acclimatisation centre for both equestrian competitors and athletes in the 2012 Olympics.
Stop HS2 Convenor Joe Rukin said;
“HS2 Ltd are making no sense. They have said they are moving the line away from population centres, but in Warwickshire they have taken it away from villages and moved it closer to towns. On top of that, they have stuck the line through the NAC, which is a major player in the local economy, with many businesses based there. According to the local MP, it also seems to be going toward the industrial estate in Southam, the main source of jobs in that town. HS2 will also destroy any Olympic legacy in the area, as the equestrian centre at the NAC is exactly where it would go. They say it’ll be fine with a ‘cut and cover’ tunnel, but that will mean digging the whole thing up and will take seven years to build. The Polo Grounds in Southam were also going to be used and if the line is getting closer to Southam as stated, it will have to go through that too as it was originally just across the road.”
“The fact of the matter is that tinkering with the route is no use at all, if you move it, some will win and some will lose. We have always believed since the first time we looked into the plans for HS2 that there is no business case, no environmental case and no money to pay for it. This changes nothing, we will fight the whole idea all the way.”
NOTES FOR EDITORS
- STOP HS2 is the national group campaigning on behalf of anti-HS2 action groups up and down the proposed route. See http://www.stophs2.org.
- For more details contact Penny Gaines on 01296 655613 or Joe Rukin on 07811 371880.
- On Wednesday 8th September, the Department for Transport and HS2 Ltd released some proposed details of route realignment on their website:
- STOP HS2 campaigner, Lizzy Williams is walking the entire length of the proposed route during September. Lizzys itinerary (subject to change) and her progress along the route of HS2 can be found at http://www.walkhs2.co.uk For more details contact Lizzy Williams on 07842 164880.
- On Saturday 11th, a walk will be held from Offchurch to Ufton Woods in Warwickshire from 9am to 6pm. The press are invited to Welsh Road Farm [CV33 9BG] [OS grid ref. 375 645] at 11am where farm machinery will be set up to show the height and width of HS2. For more details contact Mike Geddes on 07827 274626. http://www.offchurch.org.uk/high-speed-2.
- Also on Saturday 11th, two walks will be held in the Chilterns, starting at Amersham station (HP6 5AZ). Both will follow the route of HS2, with the long walk following the Misbourne Valley to Great Missenden and the short walk going to where a tunnel entrance will be. For more details contact Carol Rainsford on 07736 106101. http://www.chilternsociety.org.uk/hs2/sept2010-sponsored-walk.php
- On Friday 10th, Lizzy Williams will have a ‘homecoming’ reaching The Inn in Greatworth (OX17 2DT) at 6.30 where there will be a meeting of the South Northamptonshire Action Group, which she chairs at 7.30. This will mark the halfway point in her walk. For more details contact Lizzy Williams on 07842 164880.