With the High Speed Rail (Preparation) Bill due for it’s second reading on Tuesday, it’s fascinating to see how the Department for Transport and the Coalition government are slowly brushing aside their initial reason for building HS2.
In 2010, the Coalition Programme for Government said (p31):
“We will establish a high speed rail network as part of our programme of measures to fulfil our joint ambitions for creating a low carbon economy. Our vision is of a truly national high speed rail network for the whole of Britain. Given financial constraints, we will have to achieve this in phases.”
Stop HS2 and others studied the documents carefully, and found HS2 was not a low carbon option. By 2011, even the Department for Transport acknowledged that HS2 was carbon neutral in operation.
In the Explanatory Notes for the High Speed Rail (Preparation) Bill, it refers to the Programme for Government, but completely misses any reference to the desire for a low carbon economy.
“3. The 2010 Coalition Programme for Government included a commitment to establish a national high speed rail network and to do so in phases.”
By the time the Draft Environmental Statement came out in May this year, HS2 Ltd were acknowledging that there are other transport alternatives which are lower carbon ( Draft Environmental Statement: Introduction to the Draft Environmental Statement and the Proposed Scheme)
“1.1.2 The Government’s vision is for a transport system which is an engine for economic growth, and which is safer, greener and improves quality of life in our communities….”
“2.6.3 …Whilst a high speed line may not necessarily be the lowest-carbon solution, it is considered to offer the optimum balance between carbon reduction and economic benefits.”
There is still time to put pressure on your MP to vote against the Preparation Bill. We’ve updated the message on http://www.highspeedrail.org.uk/, so please use that tool, or contact your MP in your normal way.
There are many ‘cherished’ notions that are being burned in the bonfire of recession, austerity and keeping up in the Global race (with India and China as the oft used exemplars. Interesting as these economies are beginning to show their own limitations).
I have still not read one official reason why the Chilterns AONB and other virgin countryside had to be sacrificed when there were choices, existing transport corridors and there is the ‘apparent success’ of HS1.
Basically we are in the death throws of the post big bang Global Capitalism. As a doctrine it was/is unsustainable. HS2 is part of its progeny as green and sustainable as the culture of the red braces, a porche and ‘loadsamoney’.
We exported labour/employment, production and pollution offshore as part of the notion of globalism. The concept of the Eu has changed from an economic union to a United States; Europe expands its membership, our population has grown well beyond that which was considered ecologically safe (aprox 60M) and we relied on service industries.
Our economy and potential are very fragile. The Government are not honest about how bad it really is. They are afraid of social unrest (given the inner city scenarios of 2011) and yet are pursuing some very unpopular policies. A rock and a hard place. Something had to give and it has been the environment and ecology. Sadly that has always been the easy way when the chips are down.
Suddenly, in the lifetime of this coalition government (and without any real opposition) stances on widelife, ecology, greenbelt, forests, AONBs, GM, environment and planning that have developed with academic evidence since the 1970’s have been overturned in favour of 50-60s notions of development,development and regeneration through massive reconstructive ( destructive) development.
The only difference this time around is that in the 40-60s we saw the development of the much needed and much loved notions of welfare and reasonable, comfortable retirement and distribution of wealth through equitable taxation. Yes, some abused them.
This time around Welfare and redistributive fiscal schemes are an anathema and whilst many will suffer in swingeing cuts HS2 and much else (the newly lauded 30 Bn HS2 spin off”Old Oak Common Canary Wharf” for one will be built. The ‘Canary Wharf’ soubriquet is telling, both about the ‘spin and the psycological set of the spinners and their paymasters’ It is definitely a reflection of a bygone era and way of economic thinking.
Do we need another Canary Wharf, won’t it be in competition with plans to create Canary Wharfs in all those linked Northern Cities or even Canary Wharf East? Does this not underline the notion that London is going to suck the business away from the Cities HS2 serves?
HS2 as the Cabinet keep saying is part of the neo Victorianism, omnipotent self interested Parliament, scandals galore, a population with great division of assets and expectation and self righteous attitudes to poverty (in the Victorian days justified by institutionalized religious notions today we use socio political dogma).
Roll on HS2, the juggernaut under whose wheels will be many sacrifices.
I wait with baited breath to hear what other joys of national goodness are forthcoming.