An open letter to the Campaign to Protect Rural England
It beggars belief that you think anyone who knows your position on HS2 would sign your new campaign to ‘save the countryside’. That campaign calls for ‘a fair say for communities’, ‘sensitive development’ and a stop to developments in inappropriate places. HS2 denies all of these things and yet you have refused to campaign to stop it.
You have systematically declined to defend a huge swathe of country side along Phase 1 of the route; and now your Phase 2 advice is that communities should just engage with alternative ideas and solutions for HS2 through their areas and all will be well.
What do you think we have been doing for 3 years? Nothing but putting positive alternatives to HS2 and yet the line through our area (Offchurch) has got worse for the countryside at every iteration since the main route consultation. Further, HS2 Ltd have certainly not taken on any of our suggestions for mitigation, and not made any attempt to avoid ancient woodland. To tell Phase 2 that they should just co-operate with HS2Ltd, is cynical in the extreme.
Not only that but you have not even been arguing for change to one of the most basic design flaws of HS2 – a track designed for speeds of 400kph, faster than anything in the world and despite the repeated statements from Government that HS2 is about capacity not speed. Whatever else is wrong with HS2, just reducing the speed so that it does not require a straight line, would allow for the possibility to go around some of the most sensitive bits of countryside. But you have not even been arguing for that.
And even if improvements could be gained along Phase 2, that does nothing to justify or annul the destruction to the countryside of the Phase 1 route.
On your webiste 14 March 2013 discussing HS2, you talk about the need for “joined-up strategies to regenerate northern towns and cities, drastically reduce carbon emissions from transport and extend the rural rail network” but it is precisely these things that HS2 will not bring about and will take the funding away from. It is those who oppose HS2 that put forward this alternative approach to rail infrastructure development.
I have completely lost confidence in CPRE’s apparent concern to defend the countryside. Given your actual record on HS2, it is nothing but empty rhetoric to say that you care for the countryside; and bald cheek to ask all of us to join with you in to defending the countryside.
M. A. Wahlberg