HS2: the case for spending more

CPRE is not a cheerleader for HS2, but nor do we oppose it.  We have focussed our efforts on campaigning for the best possible high speed line, one that causes as little damage to the landscape as possible; has exemplary design, both of the day-to-day (railings, lighting, noise barriers etc.) and the large viaducts that will be necessary; and maximises benefits for the rail network as a whole, particularly rural railways.

Issuing detailed maps of the route, as we have today, is consistent with this approach.  The maps enable people to follow the route and zoom in on particular locations.  They show that more work – and yes, more money – needs to go into ensuring that the construction of HS2 does not cause unnecessary harm, and that we eventually build the best railway we can.  In particular, the Government must be much more ambitious in using existing railways for construction freight: it will not be good enough to convey 90% of it by road, often on small rural roads, as happened with HS1.

What the maps do not in themselves show is that the project should be scrapped.  Plenty of people, including many CPRE members, think it should, and the maps provide grist for those arguments, as today’s report in the Mail on Sunday demonstrates.  But CPRE’s nationally agreed position is miles from that of the Institute of Economic Affairs, whose call for HS2 to be scrapped has received prominent coverage today.  ‘Free market, pro-roads think tank opposes state investment in railways, shock!’

We are also less fazed than the IEA about the cost of HS2, which it says may reach  £80 billion.  The figure, which seems to have been plucked from the air, is suitable eye-watering, but to put it in context Network Rail is planning to spend almost £40 billion over the next five years on improving the existing rail network.  If we are going to build a new high speed line, let’s do it well.

There are plenty of good reasons for questioning HS2, and I understand why those whose lives or favourite places will be damaged by it hate the whole thing.  But given Britain’s rising population and people’s annoying desire to move around the country, the alternative to HS2 is not the status quo: it is likely to be even more new roads than the Government is planning, and probably new runways too.  Given that choice, those who care about the countryside and the wider environment should still prefer a well-executed new high speed line to its likely alternatives.

The challenge for the Government is twofold.  First, it must demonstrate that it will do all it reasonably can to minimise the impact of HS2 on communities and the countryside, including in its construction phase.  Second, it must show that HS2 is part of a wider transport strategy aimed at shifting people from cars and planes onto trains, and a wider economic strategy aimed, in the Chancellor’s words, at shifting the country’s economic geography.  As things stand, it has not made a wholly convincing case on either score.

Afterword – 20 August

Well, it’s good to get a reaction, and I’d like to thank the various anti-HS2 networks for promoting my blog. I hope I’ve won some regular readers.

But the reaction has been rather fierce. I feel a bit like the man who put in a word for natural selection at a creationists’ convention. In my blog I said: ‘CPRE is not a cheerleader for HS2.’ I said that more work needs to be done to minimise construction damage and improve the final product. I said: ‘If we are going to build a new high speed line, let’s do it well.’ I acknowledged that there are plenty of good reasons for questioning HS2, and I understand why those whose lives or favourite places will be damaged by it hate the whole thing’.

And the blog came on the back of CPRE’s new maps which for the first time allow people to scan the proposed route and zoom in on particular locations to see the likely impact of construction and of the new railway. Over 10,000 people used the maps on Sunday alone. They provoked the lead story in the Mail on Sunday, covering three pages with an editorial condemning the whole HS2 project. I dread to think of the reaction if CPRE had provoked pro-HS2 headlines, or if I had tried to make a strong case for HS2 in my blog. And, incredible though it seems to many of HS2’s opponents, it is possible to make a strong case for high speed rail, just as it is possible to make a strong case against it: not everyone on the other side of an argument is always a fool or a knave.

Many respondents have made good points. I respond to some of the postings below.

 

22 August

I meant to respond again to some of the comments, but I’ve run out of time.  I’m at the cricket tomorrow, hoping England get a turn batting, then off to the country for the weekend, where I may not have access to a computer.  I’d like to thank everyone for their comments – I’ve posted all of them, with the exception of one that was rude about a member of CPRE’s staff – and I’ll respond again to some of the comments on Tuesday.  Then I’ll try to change the subject by posting a blog about plastic bags – something to look forward to.

75 Responses to “HS2: the case for spending more”


  1. 1 Nick Bartman August 18, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    I can tell Mr Spiers’ own house is not blighted by 50% of its value to the extent he has lost his elderly care needs and will have to turn to his children for financial support. As Pete Waterman, Mr Spiers and others are all in the “I’m alright Jack” camp. Yes, Mr Spiers your grandstanding is noted for its lack of compassion or understanding what is happening to us mere riff raff. You must be so proud of your intellect.

    • 2 Shirley Judges August 19, 2013 at 9:03 am

      The alternative to HS2 is NOT new roads. The alternative is investment in smaller scale, far more directly beneficial improvements to the West Coast Main Line such as grade separation at Ledburn Junction which would double commuter capacity between Milton Keynes, Northampton and London within 5 years at a tiny fraction of the cost of HS2. Mr Spiers is right that the case for HS2 has not been made – the Transport Select Committee said in 2011 that the Government should draw up a proper national transport policy as a context for HS2 before rushing ahead with a scheme that isn’t linked to anything else. It has yet to do so.
      What Mr Spiers has missed out, surprisingly as one who purports to be so concerned about the impact of travel on the countryside, is the need for a determined effort to reduce the amount people travel. That doesn’t mean trying to stop them traveling; but it does mean things like investment in a decent national high speed broadband network and training to encourage employers to let people work from home. There is a travel reduction minister – Norman Baker MP – what’s he doing? HS2 Ltd’s ‘business case’ depends in part on encouraging people go on journeys they wouldn’t otherwise make. That is irresponsible and wrong.
      The figure of £80 billion to build HS2 has not been plucked out of the air and it is shocking to see the Chief Executive of a nationally respected organisation like the CPRE tossing out misleading assertions in this way. What the escalating costs mean is that, far from HS2 being done well, it will be done as cheaply as possible with standard design features like viaducts and bridges – HS2 Ltd has already named the company that will be involved in supplying them. HS2 will not be the Seattle-Carlisle railway of the 21st century.
      The standardised concrete structures, security fencing, vegetation-free zones, embanking to avoid the costs of transporting spoil and other features will mean that HS2 is a grotesque and alien feature carving through an AONB and miles upon mile of wonderful English countryside in North Bucks, Northamptonshire and Warwickshire. How CPRE can run a campaign to ‘Save our Countryside’ at the same time as being an apologist for this politicians’ vanity project is difficult to understand. Sir Andrew Motion was right, HS2 is ‘bonkers’ and it’s time it was scrapped.

      • 3 sspiers August 20, 2013 at 11:22 am

        The IEA’s £80bn figure has rightly been widely criticised – see this from City AM, an IEA-friendly newspaper.
        http://www.cityam.com/blog/1376904189/why-hs2-wont-cost-80bn

        Unfortunately the IEA’s call to ‘prioritise the removal of regulatory barriers to the construction of commercially viable schemes’ – in other words planning and environmental laws – has not. As announced at CPRE’s 2013 annual lecture, the Department for Transport will be setting up an HS2 design panel to champion excellence. Far from HS2 Ltd having ‘named the company’ that will be building HS2, there will be a number of different companies appointed after the hybrid bill, and it is important that we fight to prevent the sort of ‘standardised concrete structures’ and ‘vegetation-free zones’ Shirley Judges fears.

        Yes, let’s reduce the need for travel, for instance by investing in broadband (though no one seriously doubts that we will have a national broadband network by the time HS2 is due to open). But any sustainable national transport strategy is going to need a huge increase in rail capacity. This is not simply about more seats on existing trains but a much greater range of services, which the West Coast Main Line, already one of the busiest mixed use railways in Europe, simply cannot provide.

      • 4 Shirley Judges August 22, 2013 at 7:00 am

        I’m flattered that Mr Spiers has taken the trouble to respond to my comments but he has misread one of my points. The Government has named BuildOffsite ‘to seek early advice on designing and procuring factory-built bridges, viaducts and embankments.’ Its Chief Executive has said “HS2 is like a grown-up train set – all you need is simple, repetitive components…’ The link to the report is http://www.construction-manager.co.uk/news/17bn-hs2-project-plans-offsite-route-procurement/ I’m afraid Mr Spiers can’t have it both ways – if HS2 is to be done well costs will escalate as the IEA Report says. However the evidence from the photo-montages produced for the recent draft Environmental Statement consultation and repeated assertions that HS2 will be built to budget suggest that it will be done as cheaply as possible whatever the cost to the countryside.
        As regards the increase in rail capacity, the real need there is for commuter capacity. By all means let’s invest in that – I referred to the work that could be done on the WCML to double commuter capacity between Milton Keynes, Northampton and London but the worst problems are not on the WCML, they are on the routes into Paddington and there are many other areas where the problems are far worse than on the WCML. Getting commuters off the roads and onto public transport is a far better way of spending multi-billions than a high speed line the majority of whose users will be wealthy leisure travelers.
        As Mr Spiers himself says we need a sustainable transport policy to provide a context for sensible investment, not a massively expensive vanity project that will bleed funding from the rest of the rail network, as has happened in France.

    • 5 sspiers August 20, 2013 at 11:21 am

      I have visited some of those whose lives are being blighted by HS2, as I have visited many others over the years whose lives are turned upside down by development, and of course I feel compassion. CPRE is often opposes development, and where we don’t oppose it, we work to improve it. But we have never opposed all development, however upsetting to those immediately affected, because we are a public interest charity, one that was set up to shape necessary development, not oppose all development. Our charitable duty is to act ‘for the benefit of the nation’, not, I am afraid, for those immediately affected by any particular development.

      So it is that CPRE did not oppose pylons and overhead lines in the 1930s, but worked with the National Grid to minimise their impact. We did not oppose the early motorways, but concentrated on how they fitted into the landscape. And our support for more housing, particularly affordable housing in the countryside, means that every week I get letters complaining about CPRE branches backing or failing to oppose particular housing schemes.

      This week there are campaigns and protests around the country against fracking, wind farms, solar farms, supermarkets and retail parks, housing schemes, airports, roads, overhead lines and countless other developments. I expect CPRE members are involved in all these campaigns and nationally we back many of them. But we would have absolutely no credibility, and therefore no influence, if we backed every campaign against change in the countryside.

  2. 6 Arthur Franks August 19, 2013 at 8:17 am

    Sorry Shaun I do not agree that the huge amount of money that is being talked about (whoever you believe) is worth it to save a small amount of time for the people that do not have ‘ Time to stand and stare’ and as an aside I will neither benefit or be affected by HS2 so consider myself neutral but not sitting on the fence.

    • 7 sspiers August 20, 2013 at 11:24 am

      The case for HS2, such as it is, has never been just about shorter journey times for business people. It is about the need for greater capacity in our rail network, and transport network more generally. There are things that can and should be done short of building a new line, as other postings have pointed out, but there is also a strong argument that if we want more short distance rail journeys, and more freight travelling by rail rather than by road, we will need to get fast trains off existing lines by building a new line. See CPRE’s report, Getting back on track
      http://www.cpre.org.uk/resources/transport/rail/item/download/379

      • 8 apolden August 21, 2013 at 12:23 am

        Well, if HS@ was not about speed, why was it planned to go in a dead-straight line through the Chilterns and other agricultural land on its way to Birmingham? If it can do bends around the Chancellor’s constituency, it could just as well avoid an AONB, numerous SSSIs and many other nature reserves.

      • 9 Trevor Forrester August 23, 2013 at 3:12 pm

        Trevor Forrester
        If it wasnt about speed why do we keep hearing from the political supporters that HIGH SPEED RAIL is prevelent on the continent and we must have one, and if as you say its all about capacity, where did these capacity figures come from, and strongly suggest you watch the last PAC meeting, when Richard Bacon uncovered the source of the capacity figures, created by the industry, was the response from Hammond, who are the winners in the creation of their own market and profits.
        This is not a motorway which is of great benefit to all, and is about a single high speed rail, yes just one, which benefits four cities only, all leading to London, and the cost at we all know will exceed not £80bn but probably exceed £100bn and will sap the nations strength and capaital resources for other major capital projects
        You.re a businessman I think and if you gave £12Bn each to Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham would they spend it all on high speed rail, and as a businessman would you invest in something that will return you 70p for every £ invested which is HS2, or would you want your return to match the risk and go after £3 for every £1 spent,.and review some of the other great capital projects, which will bring some happiness and benefit to millions instead of a few businesses in the North.
        300,000 homes are destroyed as to value because of this single track to nowhere, and another 500,000 people dragged into the abyss after the revalation that up to 20 miles around the track will be devastated for years with millions of truck movements with surplas soil, and plant movements and concrete etc, and in one very small area alone of some 2.5 miles there is millions of tons of soil to be removed which will take a single 20 ton truck movement every 10 minutes for 5 years through village streets and lanes.
        If you have any compassion have it for the economy if you cant bring yourself and your organisation to see sense, and do it because its a WHITEHALL ELEPHENT, and will damage this countrys econmomy when there are many more viable capital projects that will bring far greater and wider economic benefit to the whole nation and not just to three cities.

  3. 10 peter jones (@HS2DeadDuck) August 19, 2013 at 8:21 am

    As a donor to CPRE I have been dismayed by the lack of backbone in the higher echelons of the organisation. HS2 is a disaster for the English countyside. If a Government can unilaterally plow through AONB and ancient woodland to achieve an end which does not stand up to rigorous analysis then the future looks bleak. I am therefore going to decline any further request for financial support for CPRE. The Green Party has concluded that HS2 is pernicious in its effects and unproven in its rationale. I would suggest that Mr Spiers re-visits the factual information now staring us all in the face and does his homework for himself rather than listening to the promoters of HS2.

  4. 11 Andrew Gibbs August 19, 2013 at 8:27 am

    The context of spending 40/50/80 billion pounds on HS2 is all the other things this money (which goes onto the national debt) could be better spent on – even just in transport. That the project also seems purpose designed to maximise impact on the countryside (ultra-speed = impossible to mitigate) makes it incomprehensible that the CPRE are not opposing this with all their might.

  5. 12 Niall Ramsden August 19, 2013 at 9:08 am

    Your own work has clearly shown the massive detrimental effect that this harebrained scheme will have on communities yet you still hide behind weasel words “it must demonstrate that it will do all it reasonably can to minimise the impact of HS2 on communities”. You know as well as anybody else that this will not happen. The truth is that the project is already destroying homes (not just houses) and communities – the stress of living with the doubt and the callous attitude of HS2 and the government is unbearable. If you really want to protect rural England and its inhabitants then call for immediate cancellation of this project rather than try to sit on the fence.

    • 13 Nick Bartman August 19, 2013 at 9:54 am

      Niall, let’s hope CPRE read your well written message more than once. Heaven knows what CPRE are thinking of. Or are they on the payroll of government to some extent. Many of these types of organisations tap into grants by some means. We have learnt to trust NO ONE that does not reject HS2.

      • 14 Peter David Leech August 19, 2013 at 1:38 pm

        I think you have summed this up well – They (CPRE)have got to be getting massive government subsidies to be so pro HS 2 especially after asking people to volunteer to “protect the countryside”. Yet they as body are rolling over in the weight of the Governments hairbrain scheme and what is even more surprising is that they are quite happy to see vast sums of money invested in obsolescence!

      • 15 sspiers August 20, 2013 at 11:25 am

        CPRE receives no government funding. Apart from a small amount of money from the Countryside Agency around eight years ago for a report on the impact of new roads, the only public funding we have received in recent years was for the Supporting Communities and Neighbourhoods in Planning project on neighbourhood planning. This funding over two years coincided with our high profile campaign on the National Planning Policy Framework, so I don’t think anyone could reasonably accuse CPRE of being bought off by government. Apart from generous support from a few trusts and foundations, we are almost entirely funded by individual donations.

  6. 16 Peter Delow August 19, 2013 at 9:37 am

    I find it interesting that this blog should following just ten days after the reposting of Mr Spier’s blog for The Countryman “Save Pudding Wood!”. I had the pleasure earlier this year of showing Mr Spiers my own local Pudding Wood (a.k.a. South Cubbington Wood) and pointing out the damage that HS2 will cause. Obviously I failed to get the message across on that occasion.
    It really is time for Mr Spier’s to wake up and smell the coffee! Asking for more money to be spent on HS2 is just not the answer. The Chief Secretary to the Treasury made it quite clear to the Commons Treasury Committee in July that the project is subject to very strict budgetary control, so there just isn’t going to be any money available for “ensuring that the construction of HS2 does not cause unnecessary harm”. Indeed, when Mr Spier’s visited Cubbington I told him about cost reduction measures that HS2 Ltd has introduced since the 2011 public consultation that make the environmental damage to my area worse.
    The CPRE should also be opposing HS2 on the grounds of the choice of route, which could hardly be worse for the environment. If, as we are being told now, HS2 is about capacity not speed, why on earth do we need this direct cross-country route designed for speeds up to 400kph?
    It has also been accepted now, even by the Government side in the Court of Appeal, that HS2 has not been subject to strategic environmental assessment. The CPRE should be incensed that, up to now at least, the project has been able to avoid this essential step in protecting the environment due to a procedural argument, and that, in the words of Lord Justice Sullivan, there has been an “egregious breach” of the SEA Directive.

    • 17 sspiers August 20, 2013 at 11:25 am

      If HS2 goes ahead, I believe there should be a tunnel under Cubbington Wood. Our maps help make that case. The Treasury would be foolish to try to build a second rate railway on the cheap, but I acknowledge that is not immune from foolishness. That is why those who are concerned about the countryside should think twice about palling up to bodies like the Institute of Economic Affairs who hate state spending on railways and want the private sector to be freed of environmental and planning laws so they can build toll roads across the countryside.

      • 18 Peter Delow August 20, 2013 at 2:03 pm

        I also believe that there should be a tunnel under South Cubbington Wood, but have given up all hope of getting one. The carefully worked submission that the Cubbington Action Group made to HS2 Ltd made over fifteen months ago has been treated with distain by that organisation. As I said in my original comment, trackbed height changes mean, in fact, that we are worse off environmentally now than we were in 2011.
        Can’t you understand Mr Spiers that it really rankles with those of us who truly are trying to defend “rural England” on the ground that the body that claims to stand for protecting our rural environment is just standing by and letting this happen?
        By the way, you haven’t responded to my points about capacity versus speed and the absence of SEA. Also, I have checked what I said and I didn’t mention the IEA. Why would I? My concerns are for the environment and, unlike CPRE, IEA doesn’t claim to speak on environmental matters.

      • 19 Shirley Judges August 22, 2013 at 6:10 pm

        What about the Chilterns AONB? And please do not say the 1 mile Amersham tunnel extension was mitigation, that was done because otherwise the line would have been surfacing in the middle of a lake. The proposed route travels on the surface for over 9 miles through the widest part of the AONB, cutting a swathe of destruction through one of the most accessible and popular parts. On the way it affects 9 ancient woodlands, severs numerous rights of way including the Chilterns Cycleway – which should itself be a concern to CPRE given its Safer Rural Cycling campaign – and obliterates an Iron Age scheduled monument identified as an archaeological Key Feature. HS2 Ltd’s proposed ‘mitigation’ measures essentially amount to dumping spoil alongside the track and pretending it’s screening. CPRE’s reaction? – silence.

  7. 20 Peter David Leech August 19, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    My contribution to CPRE stopped when they came out in support of HS 2 I am so glad I did. I honestly believed this organisation did what it said Oh what a fool I was. But I am glad that the Local branches can see the folly of HS2 even if the hierarchy who are totally ignorant of the wishes of the membership and the nation at heart.

    • 21 sspiers August 20, 2013 at 11:26 am

      One of the frustrating things about the debate on HS2 is the Manichaean view that the scheme is either wholly good or wholly bad. CPRE was talking about shades of grey long before the phrase took other connotations.

      • 22 Andrew Gibbs August 21, 2013 at 9:14 am

        I don’t think anyone is saying that HS2 is the devils work and has absolutely no redeeming features whatsoever – if it is built it would generate some benefits to some people whether that is jobs for the people building/operating it or 15 minutes extra in bed those who would use it. The key point is value for money: are these benefits worth the costs, and at that point it seems to me that the project shifts very much into such a dark shade of grey that it is indistinguishable from black. There are the environmental costs (both to the countryside and people along the route plus the energy usage from ultra-high speed and for encouraging more travel and long-distance commuting), the social costs for worsening the north-south divide, and the financial cost of burdening the country with 10’s of billions of pounds of extra debt that will never be paid back by the project (even taking the business case from HS2 Ltd it does not generate a cash payback to the taxpayer, only via nebulous benefits such as time-saving).

        HS2 is a 20th century solution being desperately offered up to a range of 21st century problems and unfortunately does not solve even a single one of them.

  8. 23 Vincent Nolan August 19, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    Mr. Spiers does not seem to appreciate the difference in carbon emissions from rail travel on existing lines at conventional speeds and High Speed Rail on newly built lines on greenfield routes, travelling at nearly twice the speed of existing trains. When emissions from construction and maintenance are taken into account, plus the much higher energy consumption required for ultra high speed, a project like HS2 is more likely to increase than decrease carbon emissions. Which is why the Green Party opposes it.

    Only 12% of the traffic forecast for Phase 1 of HS2 is transfers from road and air. About a third is entirely new traffic, which again increases carbon emissions. We should be discouraging the growth of long distance travel rather than promoting it.

  9. 25 RobinP August 19, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    It seems like CPRE is actually FOR ruining Rural England rather than protecting it.

  10. 26 Jo Mason August 20, 2013 at 7:01 am

    It is staggering that an organisation claiming to protect rural England can support such an environmentally destructive scheme. I can only conclude that Mr Spiers has failed to grasp the scope of the damage that would be caused by HS2 if it were to go ahead. He seems to have got stuck in the simplistic mind set ‘all rail is good’. Surely any environmentally campaigning organisation should be discouraging unnecessary travel in the future, not sanctioning the destruction of vast swathes of countryside when less damaging and more affordable options are available.

    • 27 sspiers August 20, 2013 at 11:27 am

      HS1 shows that high speed rail can fit in well with the countryside, where it is done well. HS2 would be in tunnel, cutting or run in transport corridors for much of its route. By contrast, the Government’s recently announced road building plans are of a different scale when it comes to environmental impact: http://www.bettertransport.org.uk/media/15-july-NGO-roads-map

      • 28 Wat Tyler August 20, 2013 at 1:48 pm

        The Wildlife trusts, Woodland Trust and Green Party know nothing then

      • 29 Joe Rukin August 20, 2013 at 6:15 pm

        And then Kent Principles which set out the parameters by which HS1 was built have been completely binned with HS2. Stop saying “HS2 could be done right.” and start saying “HS2 isn’t being done right.”

      • 30 Jo Mason August 20, 2013 at 7:09 pm

        But it also runs on many kilometres of viaduct. No mitigation there. It would go 14m in the air right down the side of our village within 150m of 116 homes. Please come to Church Fenton and tell my neighbours that it ‘will fit in well with the countryside’. It is hard to conceive how someone in your position can make such a statement. Eiher you do not understand the proposals or you are displaying a crass disregard for the affected rural communities. Maybe you should consider whether or not you are the right person to head an organisation called CPRE.

      • 31 Stratfan August 20, 2013 at 7:12 pm

        Hs1 runs along transport corridors and at a slower speed and is NOT comparable

      • 32 Shirley Judges August 22, 2013 at 6:18 pm

        Sadly this is simply not true. HS2 does not follow transport corridors – for most of its route it is in open countryside, exactly what CPRE is supposed to protect. Cuttings will take significant areas of land and be unsightly and HS2 Ltd’s method of disposing of the spoil from them is to dump it alongside the line and call it ‘landscaping’. How can Mr Spiers and the CPRE possibly pretend that is remotely acceptable? Save our Countryside – stop HS2!

  11. 33 Paul Walter August 20, 2013 at 10:35 am

    It is clear that any rational look at HS2 as a project would see it scraped. The CPRE should be pressing for this to happen and for the Government to re-look at alternatives which do less damage to the environment and take into account the needs of local communities in rural England along the proposed line. How can anyone support a scheme set to become our biggest infrastructure project ever which does not add up financially, economically or environmentally on any measure you care to use. If the CPRE really care for the countryside they should be campaigning to have this project stopped and alternatives schemes considered which do less environmental damage and are financially viable.

  12. 34 Nick Bartman August 20, 2013 at 11:51 am

    Again, very magnanimous of Mr Spiers to stand up for the perceived good of the nation, but Mr Spiers is just lucky its not his life’s finances that have been destroyed. Lofty lecture such as Mr Spier’s does the CPRE no favours. Mr Spiers is grandstanding like David Cameron. The facts are this: if the nation is such in need for all this and the nation is to benefit, then dont financially rip off the little guy. All Mr Spiers and Pete Waterman and Cameron need to do is say just that and it would go along way to sort out problems for the many of us who are financially destroyed. Get it now? Mr Spiers needs to be balanced, but he is not right now.

  13. 35 Joe Rukin August 20, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    Shaun. Simple question. Your national policy, set through democratic channels, sets ‘five tests’ for HS2. HS2 passes none of those tests. Given that, why are you completely ignoring this policy and are still saying you aren’t against it?

    • 36 sspiers August 20, 2013 at 5:28 pm

      Joe, if HS2 met all of our five tests, we wouldn’t need to campaign on it. It doesn’t and our five tests continue to define our campaigning, research and advocacy. Just for the record the headlines of our tests are: “1. Protect the local environment, 2. Tackle climate change and minimise energy needs, 3. Shift existing trips rather than generate new ones, 4. Improve local transport, 5. Integrate with planning and regeneration.”

      For example, in relation to the first test ‘protect the local environment’, we have produced our maps to highlight where changes in detailed design are most needed. Of course, we do not mean that there should never be any impact on the environment, as to hold that view would amount to opposing pretty much any development anywhere.

      In relation to the second and third tests, we have published pioneering research (with the Campaign for Better Transport and the RSPB) using scenario approaches to highlight how HS2 and indeed wider policy needs to be changed to meet carbon reduction targets and secure modal shift. In relation to local transport, we have engaged with Network Rail’s Long Term Planning Process to seek better use of capacity that would be freed up by HS2.

      Finally in relation to our fifth test we have raised with the rail minister today the need to scrap the Manchester Airport HS2 station and for the HS2 Growth Taskforce to consider the rural growth agenda.

      • 37 Nick Bartman August 20, 2013 at 5:49 pm

        Sounds to me that either CPRE should be disbanded or change their name. Clearly they’ve been bought by government money and or concessions.

      • 38 Joe Rukin August 20, 2013 at 6:37 pm

        Shaun, I know what your tests are, and I know why HS2 fails them. Although this was a readers digest version of an explanation, I suggest you read this:

        http://stophs2.org/news/7734-national-cpre-ignoring-hs2-policy-concerns-local-branches

        The article may also explain why so many people think your stance is hypocritical. Your five tests aren’t being met, so you say that’s why you have to keep campaigning. We would say your strategy has failed completely. We may not have stopped HS2 (yet), but at least we have changed opinions.

        Saying that you along with CBT (who also seem to think “It’s not a road, so it’s therefore OK”) and RSPB commissioned a report from pro HS2 Lobbyists Greengauge 21 which says HS2 ‘could’ lead to carbon reductions ‘if’ other measures such as road pricing are brought in hardly fills us with confidence. At least the other members of Right Lines Charter had peeled away from what can only be described as your deliberate attempt to neuter environmental opposition by then.

        So you’re against the Manchester Airport Station, what about Birmingham Airport and Toton?

  14. 39 Wat Tyler August 20, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    This is not good enough. Why are many local CPRE groups strongly against HS2 yet this isn’t reflected in the hierarchy? Is it true Lord Adonis is an old mate from your Labour party days? Why not have a rebrand to Campaign to Prevent Rural England?

    • 40 sspiers August 20, 2013 at 6:12 pm

      Andrew Adonis is not an old mate from my Labour Party days. I knew him at university in the 1980s: we there at the same time, along with 10,000 other people. Andrew was in the SDP, I wasn’t involved in a political party.

      I like Andrew and have a high regard for him, but in the last 25 years I’ve seen him on about a dozen occasions, all but two of them by chance. The two arranged meetings took place when he was Secretary of State for Transport, and the second of them was also attended by a number of CPRE branch Chairs.

      I am aware of the bizarre rumour that CPRE’s position on HS2 is all down to the Adonis-Spiers axis, but I’m afraid it’s bonkers. The truth is much worse, HS2 has been debated endlessly in branch events, and by our Policy Committee and Board. Our position is controversial internally, I know, but it is not down to the shadowy influence of an ex-minister. Sorry to disappoint, again.

      • 41 Joe Rukin August 20, 2013 at 6:22 pm

        “Andrew Adonis is not an old mate from my Labour Party days. I knew him at university in the 1980s: we there at the same time, along with 10,000 other people.”

        So it was a different Shaun Spiers who was previously a Labour MEP then?

        Anyway, yes, you’ve debated and set policy and then ignored it. At least that’s what CPRE Warwickshire say:

        “Andrew Watson stressed that the national CPRE body is a separate charity; and that its view is not shared by many Branches or members of CPRE. He has stressed to the Chief Executive of CPRE that the national CPRE stance has changed from applying the ‘Five Tests’ in 2010 to a position of support for HS2, without consultation with the membership.”

        http://hs2andtheenvironment.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/hs2-cpre-warwicks-meeting-at-stoneleigh-1dec12-report.pdf

  15. 42 Stratfan August 20, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    Dear Mr Spiers

    It is now clear that there is no intention to build the best possible new railway but one that will operate at ultra high speed rail in a straight line taking out whatever is in its way
    Budget constraints will severely impact mitigation and compensation and lo and behold a new transport corridor will be created and heaven knows what will follow
    We must reduce dramatically the need to travel and at last we have the potential to do so but that requires a different vision
    CPRE should be a leader in formulating it and that requires unambiguous opposition to hs2

    Thank you for the opportunity to comment

    John

  16. 43 Sue Howe August 20, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    I have been totally disgusted at cpre attitude, if the rail is built it will destroy rural England, they will definitely cut costs when it comes to mitigation, they only want the rail , nothing else matters, you should be ashamed of yourselves

  17. 44 Roger Broadbent August 20, 2013 at 9:13 pm

    Shaun I wonder are you expressing your own personal views or those that are official CPRE policy ? I was seriously thinking of joining CPRE but will not now be doings so as a result of your comments as they seem at odds with so many in your organisation who looked for a lead from CPRE. Instead you have confused us all with frankly and with respect is offering comfort to those that would gladly like to see English Countryside disappear. In support of your views you offer no apology for the mistaken policies of the past that have helped such people do so much damage to rural Britain . Have you considered resigning ?

  18. 45 Cllr Seb Berry Great Missenden August 20, 2013 at 9:51 pm

    CPRE has spent over 3 years letting the government off the hook. The reality is that here in the very heart of the Chilterns AONB, CPRE nationally has not even done what you claim to have done ie work to improve the worst environmental aspects of the scheme. Specifically, CPRE has turned its back on this area, preferring instead in extensive correspondence with me last year to repeat some of the myths and nonsense pushed by the pro HS2 lobby. Your office told me that CPRE was basically happy with the proposed level of mitigation from Little Missenden to Wendover and saw no need to visit the area for urgent discussions with the Chilterns Conservation Board and others with a view to agreeing a common position on AONB mitigation including a full AONB tunnel. Given the enormity of the blight from this scheme in the AONB, such a dismissive response was really quite astonishing from an organisation that claims to want to protect the countryside. I’m afraid that your ill-timed and ill-advised blog has done absolutely nothing to restore my faith in the CPRE.

    Cllr Seb Berry, Great Missenden Chiltern District Council

  19. 46 Graham Long August 21, 2013 at 7:44 am

    Not sure if you have seen this which is now circulating on the Stop HS2 communications network:

    http://www.testengineering.lancs.ac.uk/research/download/Environmental%20impact.pdf

    It’s a presentation given in 2004 by Professor Roger Kemp FREng of Lancaster university.

    It’s conclusions were:

    If electricity is generated from fossil fuels:

    • Travel by conventional rail contributes as much to global
    warming as travel by car

    • Over a 600 km sector, travel by high speed rail is as
    environmentally unfriendly as air travel

    • Bearing in mind that shorter journey times will increase
    travel, construction of high speed lines has a detrimental
    environmental impact

    If you look at the pages before the conclusion you can see Air travel comes out cleaner than a HSR line and a diesel Passat with 2 people in it is equal to. Of course cars have got cleaner since 2004, I wonder how bad HSR looks now?

  20. 47 Nick Bartman August 21, 2013 at 9:19 am

    I suggest CPRE change their name to CCRE – Campaign to Construct Rural England

  21. 48 Arthur Braynsell August 21, 2013 at 9:55 am

    Shaun has failed to move on from his nu-Labour past and his support for this policy reflects that. He chucks in that cannard about ‘roads or HS2’. It’s nonsense. He brings up aviation yet fails to understand HS2 will have little impact (no London flights from Birmingham, few from Manchester or Leeds) Shaun also mentions population but fails to grasp that the majority of growth is from growing older and net immigration (which, whatever your views on that, the political class claims it needs reducing). If anti-house-building Shaun needs to support HS2 – on its current route at least – his CPRE position is untenable.

  22. 49 Clive Brewer August 21, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Shaun,
    As a representive group, how much of your funding relies on not challenging government flagship projects? The concept of HS2 is built upon faster communication links – the georgaphy and demography of the UK determines that these are not justified in any fiscal sense. No-one wants to stand in the way of progress – but progress is movement towards a justifiable objective: as there is no financial benefit and huge economic cost to this project – despite your blog I do not believe that these figures have been conjured out of thin air – then what is the benefit? You claim that it is better than the alternative of more roads? Why does this have to be the alternative – making current rail provision more affordable and utilising te capacity of existing North to south routes that currently exist (you can easily get a seat on a train from Leeds, Manchester or sheffield to london any day of the week – a journey that takes 2 hours maximum) would seem to be a more viable, ecomonic and justifiable use of public finance and transport policy?
    You obviously are not personally affected to the proposals – which I can only see as a function of a government keen to do something – which no other party wants to oppose for fear of being accused of doing nothing! Can you therefore highlight for us the benefits to rural england? Yes the countryside will be dug up and beautiful fields replaced with industrialisation – yes rural communities will be divided by high viaducts to replace water meadows – yes bird song will be replaced by high levels of mechanised noise pollution – yes rural house prices will be slashed so rail lines can link cities – in summary yes rural england will have vast swaithes changed for ever so that people can travel from city to city more quickly…..so what benefits for rural England that you are mandated to represent? I am keen to understand this as a concept.

  23. 50 John Watson August 21, 2013 at 10:54 am

    Of all the comments above, one simple one says it all.

    I’m alright Jack.

    Shaun Spiers ignores the overwhelming popular opinion that HS2 is a wasteful, elitist, wrong priority. He dismisses the IEA guesstimate of £80bh but says nothing about – or seems unaware of – insider HM Treasury equivalent views.

    If HS2 is needed – and the popular opinion is that it isn’t – then its on the wrong route, the most environmentally damaging route. The head of the CPRE should not be supporting it.

    Shaun has brought too much political baggage to head up the CPRE honestly, and needs to think carefully.

  24. 51 Andrew Mason August 21, 2013 at 11:01 am

    FIRST EVER BLOG…..
    Dear Mr Squires
    I live on planet Earth,in a lovely country called England.
    To say that I am in incandescent with your comments would be a tawdry understatement.
    You seem not to have noticed that your organisation has the word “Protect” in its title!
    Now while you state that you do not “oppose” HS2 .The logic of your argument is that you are either ambivalent, or do in fact clandestinely support it.
    As you are clearly not ambivalent what other conclusion could one come to?

    I think you are left with two choices either:
    A. Stand down as you are clearly in the wrong job.

    or

    B. Publicly use your influence for the good of “Rural England” (two other words that your organisation has in its title) to denounce this scurrilous Policy .

    I Fear that you have neither the courage or integrity to do either?

  25. 52 Chris August 21, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    Protecting ‘Rural England’ is NOT the same as preventing all unpopular development – HS2 is not going to destroy the countryside, but it will have an impact which needs to be mitigated.

    Encouraging people to travel by rail over road is precisely the kind the kind of thing the CPRE should be campaigning for, but with rail capacity a major issue that means new construction is unavoidable – with a high speed line the most economic way of providing the necessary step-change in capacity and increasing it’s modal share vs car and air that means people are going to be upset, but that’s inevitable with any development. Of course it’s understandable that a line through the Chilterns will be unpopular, HS1 faced exactly the same arguments, but it has proved beyond doubt that the impact can be mitigated very successfully.

    I think the CPRE’s stance is highly commendable, and in stark contrast to the hypocrisy of other ‘environmental’ organisations which are happy to promote investment in rail and even high speed rail when opposing other schemes but when it comes to supporting something they aren’t prepared to stand up to a vocal minority.

    • 53 Stratfan August 21, 2013 at 4:50 pm

      Firstly it’s not just about the Chilterns but all the way up the route

      Secondly if you feel it bears comparison with HS1 why is that valid when it runs slower and along existing transport corridors

      Thirdly modal shift from road is neglible as confirmed by recent dft report and air shift is very small

      • 54 Chris August 22, 2013 at 2:27 pm

        Of course it’s not just the Chilterns affected but is it clearly the biggest area of concern given both it’s importance, size and the degree it is affected.

        HS2 will not be identical to HS1, but that does not make it irrelevant – the construction process, route design and mitigation will be similar if not identical. While higher speeds obviously result in greater noise levels and a difference in corner radius, how people actually perceive it will not greatly differ, and they both involve the same engineering features – conventional and ‘green’ tunnels, large viaducts, a major London terminus reconstruction and a route that both follows and diverges from existing transport corridors.

        Arguably the greatest relevance to HS2 is that it faced exactly the same arguments from opponents – and it proved them wrong.

        As for modal shift and carbon reduction, HS2 on it’s own will have a relatively small impact – the major benefits come from the extra freight, commuter and inter-regional traffic that the existing network will have room for.

    • 55 Wat Tyler August 21, 2013 at 9:49 pm

      Hang on Chris, Moving from road to rail is only sustainable IF there is a C02 saving. High Speed lines do not afford savings in CO2 over road or air, which is why the Green Party are against it. If the chair of the CPRE is pro rail he should be Pro Green solutions. A suatainable railway does not need to carve a straight line through SSSI, Ancient Woodlands. High Speed is just Willy waving and wanton destruction.

      • 56 Chris August 22, 2013 at 3:03 pm

        The real CO2 savings from HS2 don’t come from the high speed line itself but the capacity it frees up on the existing network for more freight, commuter and inter-regional traffic – the carbon impact of the high speed line itself only tells half the story.

        A sustainable railway is a railway that actually get’s built because it is economically viable, and if that means an effect on SSSI’s and Ancient Woodlands then a debate has to be had. Those designations do not prevent development, but clearly any impact has to be minimised and mitigated.

    • 57 PeterD August 22, 2013 at 2:49 pm

      This stands out as being the only pro HS2 comment on this blog and the writer appears to be more interested in getting an over-fast railway built rather than doing what’s best for the countryside. If we need to increase rail capacity it’s perfectly possible to do this while avoiding ancient woodlands, SSSIs etc.

      There is no need for insisting the railway should be capable of speeds of 250mph, especially through protected areas, making it impossible to curve round them, No amount of “mitigation” can protect, for example, the nucleus of ancient woodlands. It is only naive superfast rail fans (most of whom have no families so only need to buy one ticket) who think HS2 will get people out of their cars and onto trains. A lack of stations and cost of tickets (particularly when more than one is travelling) will ensure that HS2 does not substantially reduce travel by car. Even HS2 Ltd acknowledged this with only a 1% reduction in traffic on neighbouring motorways predicted after HS2 is completed. As if this isn’t enough, HS2 is not sustainable. Apart from using excessive power to travel at 225mph, the business case for HS2 relies on 24% brand new journeys (made by people who previously wouldn’t have made the journey at all) – hardly green.

      It’s disingenuous that Chris claims that it’s only a “vocal minority” opposing HS2 when in reality it’s a tiny minority backing the project. During the last consultation, fewer than 10% backed HS2. Incredibly this was despite the Yes To HS2 group trying to skew the results on 73% of the “Yes” responses – page 6 here https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/3666/hs2-supplementary-analysis.pdf

  26. 58 Myles Thornton August 21, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    My disappointment at seeing Shaun’s blog yesterday was enormous.

    But following the publication of the Institute of Public Affairs’ article saying HS2 was likely to cost north of £80bn four days ago and then the release of CPRE’s own maps that showed the devastation HS2 was going to cause to hundreds of thousands of people and tens of thousands of acres of land, some of it green belt and much of it green field, gave CPRE’s National Office and Shaun in particular who has been seen as an apologist for HS2 by many, the perfect chance to pause briefly and reflect, and possibly/hopefully admit to a past mistake. He could and should have said CPRE’s tacit support for this project has been a mistake and CPRE were going to come out and campaign against the project because they have finally come to understand the full extent of the damage it will cause – to people’s lives, their property and their countryside. Instead he comes out with, ” CPRE is not a cheerleader for HS2, but nor do we oppose it!”

    OK my exclamation mark!

    I nearly put a handy brick through my screen!

    • 59 Chris August 22, 2013 at 3:11 pm

      They only arrived at £80bn by wildly inflating the cost of HS2 and adding the cost of other projects, either unrelated or with their own business cases – there’s good reason why this right-wing think tank, ideologically opposed to HS2 regardless of it’s merits, put out their press release in time for the Sunday papers but didn’t release their report until the Monday. Even the £73bn quoted in the Financial Times was arrived at by including inflation and VAT, the former of which goes against how the Treasury calculates such projects and the latter which neither HS1 or Crossrail have been subject to.

      This may come as a shock, but the Daily Mail is hardly an unbiased source of information for a project which goes the against the grain of both a right-wing paper and it’s Middle England readership.

  27. 62 Arthur Franks August 21, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    Shaun, How do you appear to put comments the together about HS2 and then say exploration companies have to get the public on their side to prevent rebellion. surely the same thing applies to the railway and the large majority of people are saying NO to HS2 but still you appear to be sitting on the fence.

  28. 63 Mr anon August 21, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    Many decent folk (some CPRE volunteers I note) expressing yet again some very genuine concerns. These will be ignored. CPRE national office has no spine. Every single major issue that has presented itself over the past few years – turbines, HS2, fracking and countless other things that really matter to people living in the countryside – have been ignored by the national office of CPRE. Members are treated with contempt by toothless policies and it is no surprise numbers are in freefall. Protect is in the title and it is a good job CPRE still has some volunteers who still want to do that because one thing is certain, Mr Spiers and his wishy washy policies definitely aren’t.

    • 64 Chris August 22, 2013 at 3:23 pm

      Taking an unpopular and controversial stance is the very opposite of spineless and wishy washy – would you prefer they give up trying to follow a sensible thought through policy and simply oppose everything?

      • 65 Mr Anon August 22, 2013 at 5:38 pm

        This is a charity that says it ‘stands up for the countryside’. They are the CAMPAIGN TO PROTECT rural england. As I said further down the page – their President said in an interview this month:

        “Destroying some of the countryside is like saying, well, the collected works of Shakespeare won’t be any less if we burn a play. The countryside and Shakespeare are the two great things. We should no more tear bits from the countryside than tear bits out of the first folio.”

        If you knew CPRE as I do then I feel more than qualified to call their national office policies wishy washy. I do not mean to offend the many volunteers who so willingly give their time to do lots of good but they are regularly at loggerheads with the National Office. Spend any time in the organisation and you will learn there is a lot of bitter feeling and resentment because they are not campaigning with the right voice on the issues that matter to their own members.

      • 66 Shirley Judges August 22, 2013 at 6:28 pm

        If only HS2 was ‘a sensible, thought through policy’ but we know from Peter Mandelson that it’s not – it was an election ploy. All the assertions that are made in its favour are post-hoc rationalisation, which is why they do not withstand scrutiny. As Mr Spiers himself says, we need a properly thought out national transport policy first, before embarking on an project so massively expensive that it will preclude other, more directly beneficial schemes. It really is difficult to understand why Mr Spiers keeps on making excuses for it.

  29. 67 Nick Bartman August 22, 2013 at 7:46 am

    Mr Spiers, you might care to get in your car and talk to some of the villagers near HS1 who have fought hard against land developers who vultured in on land near HS1 after the line was opened. All these years later villagers are still fighting unwanted developments. They fought hard enough against HS1 to start with. Where does CPRE stand with that one?

  30. 68 Ewen Simpson August 22, 2013 at 10:03 am

    Dear Mr Spiers, you really should seek medical help to alleviate the pain caused by so much fence sitting. All the evidence gained from those independent of Government and especially the DforT ( the real HS2Ltd )
    clearly shows that Business Case does not stand up in way shape or form.
    What has clearly emerged is the need to upgrade existing main line services so that the modern generation of Pendolinos can travel at their design speed of 145mph. You seem to be blind to the NAo report, the NEF report and now the IEA report.! You really should go th Specsavers !!

  31. 69 Nick Kingsley (@njak_100) August 22, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    I welcome Mr Spiers’ willingness to adopt a real-world, holistic position on the HS2 debate. Clearly the project cannot be undertaken without substantial environmental impact in places, but equally a measured and mature approach is required to adopt the right level of mitigation in the most sensitive locations.

    But I particularly applaud Mr Spiers for taking a holistic view of rail’s role as a sustainable transport mode. It remains little short of jaw-dropping that so many commentators appear to believe that we do not face a North-South rail capacity (and reliability) crisis. Many commentators appear to labour under the misapprehension that load factor is a measure of rail capacity: it empirically is not. But train movements are, and Mr Spiers is right to highlight the threat to rural and community railways over the longer term as the rail network becomes more congested.

    This is not a phantom threat: the £9bn+ project to ‘upgrade’ the West Coast Main Line in 1998-2009 saw commuter trains on rural lines to the south of Manchester withdrawn to accommodate more fast trains to London; stations in rural Staffordshire and Warwickshire were closed on the grounds that there is no capacity to serve them with local trains. Astonishingly, the so-called ‘HS2 alternatives’ proposed by the 51M Group of local authorities hostile to the project advocated a service pattern which would have led to more such cuts at Stone and Atherstone, according to Network Rail. The same 51M documents also indicated discontinuation of direct trains between North Wales and London, with obvious implications for the rural economy in that area.

    In any case, Mr Spiers’ argument has subsequently been wholly endorsed by the Office of Rail Regulation, which has refused recent applications to add even more trains to the overburdened West Coast route, which despite its multi-billion pound refurbishment, is Britain’s least reliable rail axis by some margin. Repeating such flawed policy on a the four corridors which would be served by the two phases of HS2 would be utterly counterproductive, and, as Mr Spiers suggests, would likely spur further investment in aviation infrastructure as rail would remain largely uncompetitive with air on both speed and reliability grounds on Anglo-Scottish routes.

    The cost to the taxpayer to construct HS1 through Kent was approximately £4bn – £6.1bn less the £2.1bn recouped on opening by the letting of an infrastructure management concession. In other words, less than half the outlay for the disastrous WCML rebuild. There are clear lessons to be learned from the engineering of HS1, where by any measure fears over environmental impact were substantially exaggerated. CPRE’s pragmatic stance is welcomed and it should continue to pressure the government to learn the right lessons from HS1 as HS2 is taken forward.

  32. 70 PeterD August 22, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    The Woodland Trust opposes HS2 because it ploughs right through ancient woodlands and SSSIs without any attempt to curve round them – presentation here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWEOQ_Wq1hU.
    The main problem appears to be an insistence that the tracks should be capable of 250mph speeds, severely restricting the route. If capacity is the problem, we do not need those sort of environmentally-damaging excessive speeds. As for HS2 reducing car travel, this is pure fantasy. Even the Department for Transport is only predicting a reduction in traffic of 1% on neighbouring motorways after HS2 is complete. Of course, this low figure is hardly surprising given there are so few stations as well as the likely cost of HS2 tickets (especially when there’s more than one person travelling). In addition, creating out of town stations is going to create more traffic as HS2 does very little to integrate with existing railways. Of course, the fewer the stations, the more changes people are likely to have to make. This increases the overall door-to-door journey times (not the headline station to station times used by HS2 Ltd). Changing trains is one of the big disincentives with rail travel that is more likely to encourage people to use their cars, rather than discourage them. The CPRE really should come off the fence and oppose HS2 outright and back proper sustainable public transport instead of this over-fast vanity folly project.

  33. 71 Mr anon August 22, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    In fact CPRE doesn’t seem joined up on many things at all, here is their President recently:
    “Destroying some of the countryside is like saying, well, the collected works of Shakespeare won’t be any less if we burn a play. The countryside and Shakespeare are the two great things. We should no more tear bits from the countryside than tear bits out of the first folio.” 

    It all seems very disjointed!

  34. 72 John P August 22, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    I’ve also been disappointed by the approach of CPRE. You talk of mitigation and getting HS2 built right but at the single most important mitigation forum with HS2 Ltd that you could have attended – Amersham for the AONB – you refused to attend. The response from Ralph Smythe your Transport Campaigner was “that he was too busy” – that “he had a full time job as well” and couldn’t be expected to attend all forums. As well he “hadn’t been invited!” Pathetic. As the old joke says; At a recent CPRE meeting ” A cold chill went round the room looking for a spine to run down.” Unfortunately this isn’t a joke. If you are not there to defend an AONB – that you did so much to create – what are you there for?

  35. 73 Wat Tyler August 22, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    High Speed is not sustainable in terms of CO2 and the impact on Rural England. So Shaun why are you not campaining for a lower speed line which could utilise transport corridors? There is no need for you to be supporting High Speed! There is no valid reason for it.

    The other point is laid out above by Peter alove, even the department of transport admit HS2 will not allieviate the roads. So all you are doing is signing up for new rail on top of probably new roads. Only 3% of journeys are even made by rail and far fewer long distance (for which demand is starting to fall). The subsidy and indeed external environmental cost per user will be massive.

    I think however the biggest issue is being missed here. There is less and less need for people to travel long distance for work due to technology. I know the Government don’t seem to undertand this. But company workforces are turining virtual/global, office space is being downsized.
    I write this after spending the day working remotely in Northern UK for a company in Detroit, no need for me to be even on the same continent.

    Now, of course HS2 say only 30% occupancy will be business anyway, 70% jollies, you are willing to risk the rural environment for all those needless journeys? No CO2 will always trump low CO2

    Even Young people travel less than their parents did, and lesuire travelers are cost sensitive, it’s going to be half empty like HS1.

    Say No, because HS2 is a solution to a 20th century problem, not at all relevant for the 21st. It’s stupid and costly and belongs in the dustbin of history.

  36. 74 Carol Hulme October 10, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    It is ironic that Shaun Spiers supports HS2 and yet he belongs to an organisation that should be protecting rural England! He needs to resign and get a job with Mr McLoughlin and Co. at HS2Ltd.


  1. 1 HS2 and Damage to the English Countryside | Over The Hills Trackback on August 20, 2013 at 2:13 pm

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