“Not Some Constable Country”

It’s hard to ascertain whether Mr Philip Hammond meant just the Chilterns or the whole of the line when he uttered in an interview in the Telegraph “it’s not some Constable country”.

If you watch the recent Countryfile programme featuring HS2, John Craven refers to this statement when he was discussing the potential impact on the Chilterns with the actor Geoffrey Palmer.

What did Mr Hammond mean? Well “Constable Country” is renowned as one of Britain’s finest landscape which inspired the internationally recognised painter John Constable. It is situated on the borders of both Essex and Suffolk including the Dedham Vale and Stour Valley and has legal protection as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The Chilterns AONB is described as a stunning area of protected countryside only a few miles north west of London. With rolling hills, magnificent beechwoods and charming villages. It too follows a beautiful valley containing the River Misbourne.

An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is exactly what it says it is: a precious landscape whose distinctive character and natural beauty are so outstanding that it is in the nation’s interest to safeguard them.

There are 38 AONBs in England and Wales (33 wholly in England, 4 wholly in Wales and 1 which straddles the border). Created by the legislation of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act of 1949, AONBs represent 18% of the Finest Countryside in England and Wales.

Apart from location the classification of the two AONBs is exactly the same so Mr Hammond is either deliberately misleading those who are unfamiliar with the area or is badly misinformed. Strange for a politician who claims hill walking as one of his passions. When you check the detail on his website however he does in fact say “hill walking in Scotland”. He will benefit from HS2 then.

High Speed 2 will carve straight through the Chilterns ANOB as it forces its way through 138 miles of almost totally virgin countryside, much to the horror of anyone who cares for the environment and our heritage in this country. If they go ahead the next two legs from Lichfield to Manchester and Leeds will affect other protected landscapes in particular the Peak District National Park.

Worse still the proposed high speed 2 project is based on unsubstantiated economic and environmental claims that simply do not hold up to scrutiny.

STOP HS2 believes Mr Hammond and the government are guilty of dereliction of duty in pursuing this project and failing to protect and enhance the environment.

We need you to help us save our country and STOP HS2.

3 comments to ““Not Some Constable Country””
  1. It would be nice to think that governments behaved rationally and carefully evaluated all the options before deciding on how best to invest our money. That’s how we got a millennium dome, wasted £26bn on computer blunders and £18bn on ID cards that no-one wanted. Now they’ve already spent £8.4m on plans for HS2, and all on the whim of a Labour peer who was not even elected! The decision making process is more like something out of an episode of Yes Minister than the result of democratic debate.

    £17bn is a lot of money to spend when it’s only going to end up saving commuters about 20 minutes on the trip between Birmingham and London. Add in the fact that low-cost spending on existing rail lines would be much more cost-effective and the fact that the new proposed high speed rail might do some serious damage to the local countryside. You’ve got to start wondering why the government wants to spend so much money on this project. To date they have not presented an adequate explanation.

  2. i suspect that this government is going to go ahead with cutbacks whether we like it or not ! but since they are committed to hs2 i think we should think long and hard before rejecting investment of over £30 billion which will create jobs as well as providing much needed infrastructure and regeneration and other economic benefits.

    we need to fight any cutbacks as much as we can. the main justification for hs2 is that the long term benefits are much higher than the costs so it is actually good value for money. this is the view of the treasury. so i am puzzled as to why some people think it is a waste of taxpayers money when it appears that the opposite holds true.

    every day people get catapulted into the sky and travel at over 500 mph. some people obvoiusly do not like flying but i dont hear anyone saying the planes go too fast. nor have i heard anyone saying that about high speed rail. it isnt a very good reason to not have flights or high speed rail !

    The whole hs2 issue raises questions of what type of political system we have. currently we elect a government to represent us and they then make the decisions for us based on their beliefs and policies. the alternative would be to have referendums on all major policies. and to be fair to the government hs2 was clearly on the agenda so its not like they just pulled some policy out of a hat that wasnt on the table during the election campaign. hs2 at least was not a complete policy u-turn like nick clegg and his education fees debacle !

    the thing is surely we have to base important decisions coldly and rationally based on the information that we can gather through surveys and projections and expected costs. we cant decide things just because we have a feeling one way or another. I dont mean by that that anyone should not be concerned about the environment but i dont see how the general public are suppposed to be able to tell whether or policy or project is good or bad.

    and countries like france are still expanding their high speed networks. away from the high speed lines in france the story is not so rosy but you have to ask why the high speed network takes preference. one reason is that they link all the busiest highest population centres. another is that high speed rail makes money whilst the rest of the network doesn’t. so in pure terms they perform better in financial and other positive terms such as regeneration.

  3. Will this coalition Government offer anything different to the spin and lies that the previos administration put us through? New Government but the same old tactics. They tell us stuff to get voted in and then they ride rough shod over our lives.

    Let’s see if the public consultation into HS2 is open and fair and IF the majority of responses are against HS2 that the Government will have the courage and back bone to scrap it?

    I talk with friends and family from far and wide and I cannot find one person who thinks HS2 is a good idea. My brother lives in Machester – he is a business man and he might welcome a quicker train journey into London in the future? But he says not at the expense of devastating the countryside just improve the existing train service for a fraction of the price! My parents live in Derbyshire and they are now in their 70’s – like so many elderly people the thought of 250mph trains scares the living daylights out of them! My dad is not allowed to drive at more than 50mph and I know this is not untypical for many of their generation. So I guess that means the elderly won’t be joining the queue to ride the Bullet Train Ride!.

    My partners’ family mainly live in the North West (Lancashire) and they too think HS2 is a total waste of money and should not go ahead when there are so many other important public services being slashed and cut back! I have a very close friend who lives and works in Leeds – he is totally against HS2 because like so many he has a real problem that HS2 will destroy so much of our green and beautiful land – not to mention the pointless waste of tax payers money!

    Whether we are in Constable Country or not – HS2 is a total waste of limited resources and will scar our country forever.

    Signed: Angry person who like so many know that life has already been ruined by HS2!…..oh and I wonder if anyone has factored in the cost to the NHS for all the vallium needed to treat the mass depression that those of us who give a damn are now suffering?

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