Economical with the truth? – Part 2

Another guest post by Peter Delow. From his blog post Economical with the truth.

Listening to Justine Greening MP, Secretary of State for Transport, making her statement on HS2 to the House of Commons on Tuesday 10th January 2012 and answering questions by MPs was not good for my blood pressure. Time and time again, as I listened, I found myself thinking “that’s not right” or “that’s not fair” or “yes but, what about …”.

The Transport Secretary said:

“My decision had to consider not only the full environmental impact of HS2 but its benefits to our economy, jobs and our competitiveness not just today but decades into the future.”

She must, or at least should, be fully aware that the “full environmental impact of HS2” has not been assessed up to now. Only when the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has been completed will she be able to make that claim and, as far as I understand, that task will not commence until some time later this year.

All that HS2 Ltd has produced to inform the critical decision making process is a vastly inferior EIA substitute, which is called the Appraisal of Sustainability (AoS). This latter document has been the subject of thousands of words of critical analysis by me in my blogs; I regard it as deeply flawed, not least by a marked tendency to underestimate the environmental impacts of HS2 and overestimate the few benefits and the effectiveness of mitigation.

I am not alone in my condemnation of the AoS. The analysis by Dialogue by Design of the responses to the public consultation (here) reveals that only 614 of the 36,918 respondents to the consultation question on the AoS expressed unqualified satisfaction with it. A further 158 expressed support, but with some caveats, but rather more (14,170) are of my opinion and “expressed concerns that the AoS is insufficient”.

PS: The Hansard transcript of the announcement and subsequent questions by MPs may be found here.

4 comments to “Economical with the truth? – Part 2”
  1. if we dont have the extra capacity of hs2 fares overall will keep going up as the railway operators and government price people off the rails even more so then now as a direct result of overcrowding.
    when this happens people will have no alternative but to take the car or possibly short haul flight which as we all know creates more pollution and uses more energy then even very high speed electric rail.

    i understand peoples concerns with the visual and noise pollution of hs2 although many tunnels and cuttings are to be used to minimise this. however i think we should be more concerned with the air pollution which we dont always see which comes from cars trucks fossil fuel powerplants and yes diesel trains. this has a major imnpacts on peoples health not to mention potential global warming.

    even with very high fares in many cases nearly 1.5 billion passengers have been using rail as the cost of driving is even higher. this increase has been steady for a number of years now and is at a much higher rate then that used to calculate potential custom for hs2.

    we can have more working from home and more flexible hours which may reduce commuting but with a backdrop of a growing but also aging population. and rail travel would be more beneficial then road travel in terms of the environmental and relative travel costs as the price of oil is likely to climb and i dont see fuel taxes comong down. in fact i am more worried about the latest plans to build toll roads then hs2 which takes much less land then a motorway and is both safer and less polluting.

    we have to decide as a nation what we want and need and are willing to accept. everyone wants and needs to travel, use water and electricity and gas to keep their houses warm, go on holidays etc etc but when a high speed rail link which is cleaner then alternatives is suggested everyone in the are affected is against the plan. ditto wind and solar farms not to mention a water pipeline from the north or desalination plants ! everyone wants their rubbish taken away but nobody wants a land fill site or recycling plant or incinerator near them !

  2. Having just read the above article by rail news i am horrified at the thought of the idea of not 18 trains per hour but up to 30 .Where are all these people coming from that want to go up and down the country all through the day and night?

  3. “Only when the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has been completed will she be able to make that claim”

    For those who make the rules, it is just as easy to selectively consider the environmental issues as it is to selectively consider the economic benefits, when there is a specific target you wish to achieve.

    HS2 Ltd informed me:

    “The HS2 Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) will follow the requirements set out Town and Country Planning (EIA) Regulations 2011 and will cover a broad range of topic areas including likely significant effects on people, water and climate change.

    Who is responsible for these Town and Country Planning (EIA) Regulations?
    Who is responsible for HS2?

    HS2 continued…

    “Considerations will cover direct, indirect and cumulative impacts relating to both construction and operational phases of the HS2 proposal between London to the West Midlands. This will include the impacts of passenger numbers and train journeys.”

    My view on this is that, in addition to the environmental damage along Phase 1 of the route, IF thousands of people take the fast train as HS2 predict, then much more environmental damage will occur in the midlands and northern Britain as a result of the proposal between London to the West Midlands.

    HS2 also told me that some aspects of the environmental impact are outside the direct control of high speed rail. However, without HS2 and with a target to build an economy that is less reliant on transporting increasing numbers of people, there would be less impact on the environment.

    The decision to go ahead with HS2 shows that the full environmental impact of HS2 commands less consideration than the (questionable) benefits of HS2 to our economy, jobs and competitiveness.

    HS2 could have an immense impact on our nation’s environment. Our national economy, jobs and competitiveness could thrive without the addition of this high capacity faster rail route between London and the Midlands. Nevertheless the Government have decided the best way forward is HS2.

    HS2 Ltd also informed me:

    “The findings of the EIA will be used to produce the Environmental Statement (ES) to be prepared to accompany the hybrid Bill that will be put before Parliament and scrutinised.”

    and that

    “the Government has agreed to undertake a public consultation on the Draft Environmental Statement in Spring/Summer 2013. This approach may also include public roadshows.”

    It’ll be interesting to see how comprehensive the Environmental Impact Analysis is, and what it contributes to the Environmental Statement.

  4. That’s why what we have to do is to that the Government to court as what they are doing to us is mocking and bullying is to this stupid project. I am tried to even try to listen to what they hv to say as they are not listening to any if our concerns. I hope the judical system will point to the facts and stop this.

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