Green Thoughts for the Green Party

The Green Party are reconsidering their high speed rail policy at their Spring Conference, being held in Cardiff this weekend.

The motion for discussion has been proposed by several people including Prof John Whitelegg, who spoke at the Stop HS2 convention on Saturday and Stephen Plowden.

Stop HS2 have published a number of articles which may help you understand the environmental concerns about HS2.

These include:

(Please use the twitter and Facebook icons at the end of each article to alert your friends and followers to the issues).

The motion under discussion at the Green Party Conference:

C03 (C20) High Speed Rail

Proposed by: John Whitelegg(**), Jenny Jones, Emily Heath, Stephen Plowden, + 2 others.

Delete existing TR244 and insert new TR244:

Existing TR244 for reference:
TR244 The Green Party believes that long-distance service provision should not concentrate on high speeds where this will affect local service provision or take up an excessive amount of limited resources. The Green Party supports the principle of a new north-south high speed line which would reduce the number of short-haul flights within the UK.

New version of TR244 suggested in this motion to conference:

TR244 The Green Party believes that long-distance service provision should not concentrate on high speeds where this will affect local service provision or take up an excessive amount of limited resources. Current proposals for a new north-south high speed rail route are based on assumptions about continuing growth in mobility, energy use and CO2 emissions which are not compatible with green party policy.  The Green Party does not support the current high speed rail proposals known as HS2 but will review this policy if and when evidence emerges that HSR is embedded within an overall policy context that can deliver reductions in the demand for transport, energy use, land take  and CO2 emissions.

The Greens debated HS2 in the autumn as well, but decided to refer back the motion.

20 comments to “Green Thoughts for the Green Party”
  1. I am really, really tired of wasting time arguing with those that are unwillingly to examine the detail of HS2 or have a vested interest in not doing just that. HS2 has NO BUSINESS CASE, NO ENVIRONMENTAL CASE and apart from destroying our environment THERE IS NO MONEY TO PAY FOR IT! It is bad for Britain, bad for you and bad for the world.

    • Capital letters? – well it must be true then. The fact remains that the HS2 proposals – as included in the Labour and Tory manifestos before last year’s general election – have only been brought forward because solid business and environmental cases have been made. And given that we can afford to shell out £2 billion a year on Thameslink and Crossrail before the deficit is paid off your assertion that there is no money to pay for it just doesn’t hold water.

    • 69 ‘top’ business people sign a letter of support to the Financial Times the day before consultation starts. Surprise surprise! Did they all meet by chance and say ‘this HS2 project is a corking good idea let’s write to the FT’, or were they encouraged?

    • I shouldn’t bother Lizzy. There really is not point to people like nick & dan. I suspect they are regular “contributers” on many different internet site – although under different names of course. They’d argue black is white just to get a response – classic attention seking behaviour really. The truth is that the only people who are left in favour of HS2 are egocentric politicians defending their pet vanity project or people who stand to make a big pile of cash out of it. Nick and dan are just a couple of needy people who really should pop out and get a life at some point. I suggest ignoring them and deleting their pointless rubbish. Focus on what’s important and ignore them

      • Sturedman- Did hear about the Judge who who refused to listen to any evidence for the defence, on the grounds that ” it confused him.”

        Hopefully, he was no more than legend.

        But are you for real?

        The Soviet “peoples’ courts” are now history, as is the Spanish Inquisition.

        Total belief in the absolute rightness of one’s own conclusion, refusing to consider any other point of view and denigrating those who differ as knaves, fools or
        self seeking liars; these are the responses of the despot and the bully.Shame on you!

        • Anyone who looks at the real evidence for HS2 not just the spin will realise it is completely unjustified. We know we have examined it in more detail than most because none of the pro people seem to able to provide any factual evidence to counter the claims we make. The TSC have launched an inquiry – they would not be doing that unless there were questions to answer.

  2. Trams, buses and cycle lanes are all well and good but they don’t get you from London to Birmingham (and beyond). As local rather than long distance transport solutions you seem to be comparing apples with oranges.

    More local trains would be good too – shame that operators’ requests to run additional services (for example more Milton Keynes to Olympia trains) have already been turned down on the basis that there isn’t sufficient capacity now, let alone when the West Coast line is officially forecast to be full. The experience of the 10 year, £9billion, no-trains-at-weekends, hand-over-vast-sums-of-taxpayers-cash-to-Virgin-in-compensation West Coast upgrade also tells us that upgrading an existing transport corridor isn’t necessarily the most economic approach to providing additional rail capacity.

    It’s true that the most environmentally approach would be for us not to travel at all. But that requires limiting personal freedom and putting barriers in the way of economic development. Road pricing may have a place in transport policy of the future but would help create a society where only the well off can afford to travel.

    So assuming we don’t want our rights to travel at will curtailed, the question is what is the most environmentally friendly means of transport. No HS2 means there will be no significant increase in rail capacity between London and Birmingham which means that most people who have to travel will go by road. Do environmentalists believe that a future with more traffic congestion/new and widened roads is greener than one with a new railway that would meet demand?

    • Why should long-distance travel be a special case or exempt from the principle of ‘polluter pays’? As proved over and over if you provide a means for people to travel easier and faster then they will just travel more and further – especially if they are not being charged the real cost. You are free to argue the merit of this on other levels but this is not green. Airlines benefit most from this which is why it can be cheaper to have a stag do in another country than the next town – I’m sorry but I don’t see it as a curtailment of personal freedom if we are simply charged the full cost rather than expecting subsidised travel. Why should the taxpayer pay someone to commute to London from Birmingham?

      And as to economic development being linked to long distance travel? Sure some people genuinely need to travel, but I’m equally sure that a lot of travel is by habit and choice rather than necessity and if faced with non-subsidised rail or air travel with fuel duty applied that at lot of people would rightly decide that their journey was not that important after all and that maybe a quick phone call would do the trick (I seem to remember this happened post 09/11 and during the volcanic dust incident) And businesses would not collapse because of this, and in fact might become more productive.

      Lastly, you don’t need HS2 to increase the capacity of the WCML to meet the official forecast. And future traffic congestion will depend entirely upon things like road pricing, not railways.

    • Long distance transport is a luxury – carbon aware individuals don’t do it unnecessarily as it is the quickest most intensive way to destroying our world inadvertently. What people want and need is good local connectivity to go where they want and need to go when they want to and door to door. Being able to access local transport and local jobs reinforces economies and spreads prosperity. HS2 is not a sustainable option – it only addresses speed not the capacity issues it was originally designed to tackle. Huge £Bn benefits are there for the construction companies if HS2 goes ahead at the expense of this country. I am really looking forward to the Green Party passing a resolution against on Saturday – I will join them as a guest and maybe a member by then – HS2 is not sustainable growth.

      • who is to decide that long distance travel is a luxury many people would not agree with you. what do you define as long distance and how do you decide what is or isnt a luxury journey. are you saying that nobody is allowed to go on holiday over a certain distance ? what about business trips or people visiting their relatives ? Even the chinese communist government cant stop people buying cars and travelling which is one reason why they are investing massively in high speed rail. I mean you cant even get a lot of people to recycle !

        i really dont think you can assume that people are willingly going to not travel. and i think saying that high speed rail is bad for the world and will destroy the environment is really exaggerating to be honest. people are travelling now in large numbers and they are using planes and cars more then they are rail which causes less pollution. what if we dont build hs2 and the government gives up on expanding the railway and people dont stop travelling as you think they will ? then we will have even more cars and further flights and more pollution.

        • People should be free to do what they like, and of course in pretty much any future that I want to contemplate there will still be lots of people travelling for all sorts of reasons. However they should pay the real cost (ecological and economical) and certainly not encouraged or even subsidised to travel, in the same way as I would not expect the government to pay to build a very expensive chain of restaurants and then pay more to give people junk food at discount prices – even though some people might like the sound of the plan! Of course there might also be a lot of junk food manufacturers lobbying hard for this scheme as well…

      • * “Is Your Journey Really Necessary?” – A Familiar Slogan of World War 2 *

        The overwhelming demands of the wartime economy, vast numbers of troops and materials to be transported, meant that personal travel had a very low priority and was to be discouraged.

        Today the pressure on all transport systems occurs at peak times, when the railways’ capacity is stretched to the limit and fares are most expensive.

        Off peak, much of the capacity remains, but the demand is much reduced, and those who are free to travel “off peak” enjoy uncrowded trains and much cheaper tickets.

        Unlike extra car journeys, or flights, where the weight of the passengers is a significant factor, extra travellers contribute little or nothing in the way of adverse environmental effects.

        On top of that, the cheap “off peak” fares provide additional revenue to support the huge cost of providing the peak time services.

        So, if you can, travel widely, and with a clear conscience . A “luxury” it may be Lizzy, but surely not a guilty one! Go on, enjoy!

        • All sorts of unpredictable scenarios are likely to occur over the next 15 years. Most likely is that the price of oil will keep going up and up, a higher proportion of family income will be spent on heating and food, and for many people the cost of travel will become an expensive luxury.

  3. Any environmentalist should be objecting to HS2 as it is not green! Most of its users will be shifted from existing normal trains or be completely new journeys. Only by forecasting an unbelievable increase in domestic flights which it can then claim to stop can the figures be massaged to optimistically end up with HS2 as ‘fairly neutral’. And this does not even include the environmental costs of building the thing.

    Wider transport policy of the future must surely include more trains (local) and trams, more buses, road pricing, travel reduction, cycle lanes, etc. These are schemes which give genuine results for the environment. HS2 will at best do nothing useful, and at worst generate more problems while also sucking up the money that could have been spent on real solutions.

  4. So Green Party transport policy will then be what exactly? Anti-aviation, anti-road, anti-rail? A commitment to think about maybe supporting some sort of vague transport policy in a few years time but only if every UK citizen is in favour of it?

  5. what is their answer then ? and why are they opposed to the cleanest form of transport ? eurostar has 1/10th of the emissions of short haul flights and most cars only have 1 person in them. if people are going to travel and i dont see any reason why they should or more importantly will, we have to use the system which pollutes the least.
    and the trains are nearing capacity. so just when people are using rail more we are going to make people stay in their cars and planes through lack of railway capacity ? and dont say upgrade the existing network because that what hs2 will do. upgrade – improve and expand both speed and capacity. During the wcml works only about 75% of the virgin trains that actually ran were on time. and some people who used the wcml didnt say oh we wont travel then. they went by car and plane instead increasing emissions, congestion and car accidents.

    i suppose that they are opposed to offshore wind farms as well even though nobody can see them without binoculars. we have a problem with the supply of fossil fuels and have to reduce our use of them. electricity can be generated from renewables and even if they cant provide all our needs they can at least reduce our dependency on fossil fuels.

    • Why not read the WCML route utilisation strategy Nick. No mention of reducing number of first class seats – te majority of which are always empty, whilst extending platforms is uncosted.

      With Deutsche Bahn’s website welcoming HS2 and Birmingham international airport, 48% owned by the same Canadian pension fund that also co-owns HS1, reckoning Londoners will travel to their airport on HS2, isn’t it obvious that HS2 is just one more step in selling off UK assets to foreigners?

      We desperately need a public inquiry into these issues, don’t you agree Nick?

      • the consultation is about to begin. if there are first class seats that are empty then it would make sense to have more standard and less first class seats as you say. have you any idea what percentage of first class seats are empty ? of course if we got rid of first class altogether then standard price tickets would increase.

        the real benefit of hs2 would be that it would allow more service on the existing lines or at the very least allow existing services to stop at stations which are currently missed out due to capacity constraints. making all the trains longer would increase capacity per train but the number of services would be constrained, a new line is preferrable.

  6. The Green Party might like to read the following transport policy statement from Friends of The Earth

    FOTE were being cited by Hammond & his team as supporters of HS2. As a long term supporter, I contacted them and asked them to review that stance in light of some facts I supplied.

    Their revised position shows that they, whilst being in favour of rail travel as a mechanism for reducing CO2 emissions, can see that HS2 is not the answer.

    Lets hope The Greens can see this too

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