‘Chalfonts No HS2’ will have a stand at Feast Day – so do come along to learn more and respond to the Public Consultation. I know it seems like a pain at a fun family event, but I promise it’s painless! A public meeting is planned for July 1st at the Community Centre. There’s only 39 days left to try to save yourself more than £1000 in added taxes and years of construction headaches. But do come along on Feast Day (we’ll be in the CSP parish tent)- we’ll direct you to info from both sides of the argument.
So the meeting on Saturday was a real eye-opener – huge, standing-room-only turnout, and more importantly, a real interest was expressed in forming a proper Action Group for CSP on this issue.
Presentations were given by the Chiltern Society (showing the impact on the local area) and the HS2ActionAlliance, which focused on the overall case for HS2, or rather, the lack thereof. Judging by the comments from the audience there are very strong views in CSP, in spite of the fact that one could argue it would directly impact only the northern section of the village – proving that the driving concern is for the Chilterns in general, as well as the understanding that spending upwards of £30billion during a time of cutbacks can only be justified if the case for it clearly demonstrates real benefits.
Bearing in mind the route north of Birmingham wouldn’t be operational for another 30 years (not a misprint!), the case for business travel demand is ludicrous. If we can all conduct meetings by video link now, imagine the technology in 30 years’ time. The government’s own documents now admit the greater share of passengers would be leisure travellers, which I would have to assume means tourists. But it’s precisely leisure travellers who are most cost-conscious when they travel – why would they opt for High Speed Rail when they could fly for the same price or take existing trains for much less?
If you’d like to be involved with a local Action Group, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
HS2 Info Meeting in Chalfont St Peter: Sat April 2nd – 10am at Chalfont St Peter (C of E) School, Church Lane, Chalfont St Peter Organised by Change4Chalfont
And check out: http://www.facebook.com/pages/HS2-SAY-NO/129307397141122
A series of (gleeful) statements and press releases from Birmingham Airport suggest what vested interests might really be driving HS2. The chief exec, Paul Kehoe, has been expressing his delight that HS2 would mean that Birmingham could essentially become Heathrow’s Terminal Six. What this shows is that HS2 is not being conceived as an alternative to flying, quite the opposite, it will facilitate extra capacity for flights into the UK.
Excerpt from press release: “Paul continued, “We have plenty of capacity and, linked to high-speed rail, we are uniquely positioned to attract passengers from the overheated South East. I hope that the Government’s new thinking will encourage others to take a fresh look at their travel habits – and see that there are some easier alternatives to the ‘received wisdom’.”
Why can the government never just tell the truth? Tell us that this is how Heathrow could be supplemented, rather than give us the poppycock about decreasing flights and carbon emissions. And then we can debate the merits like grown-ups. How are we to have good faith discussions about gov’t expenditures when the real motives for them are concealed?
Update: The date for the start of the Consultation on HS2 has not been announced, but it looks like it’s going to start on Monday Feb. 28th. So for all the groups that oppose HS2, it’s ‘battle commence’ time. The momentum will noticeably pick up and activity and press coverage is likely to peak later in the spring and early summer. All of the groups involved (there are some 70 plus individual entities) are focusing on getting an outright U-Turn out of the government, along the lines of the forestry issue – in an ideal world, we’d get Hammond to do a Caroline Spelman and say ‘Sorry, got this wrong, we’ll admit to complacency and an arrogant attitude and go back to the drawing board’.
The case they’ve put forward is highly flawed, to say the least, and seems to be driven by special interests. So at the very least they need to prove that this will benefit those of us paying for this thing – (realistically a £35 billion exercise – for the sake of saving about 15 net mins in travel time) – and in times of cuts, it surely cannot be too much to ask that they justify spending this amount in this way. Taking this view means entering into the Consultation in good faith, with the expectation that the case against will be heard and properly considered.
But having said all this in regards to opponents’ objectives, I do think it’s important to have a Plan B. Plan A, stop this White Elephant in its tracks or force a re-consideration of the route (remember – it’s not just that this route destroys the Chilterns, it’s also the most difficult and expensive option- it ain’t cheap putting a HS rail line through virgin territory that is hilly terrain and means tunneling and viaducts).
But this area needs to have a plan for what happens if these proposals get the green light. Long before the potential disruption issues of the line in operation are faced, there’s the impact on CSP of construction. Tunneling on this scale means a huge ‘construction village’, a site for the equipment and trucks and workers. And it means traffic. Lorries carrying excavated soil do not travel at great speed, and there is no doubt there would be considerable delays on the roads.
I raise this because we have a right to expect mitigation of this disruption, and we have a right to be informed how we will be affected. CSP is an example of a community that has fought hard but despite its best efforts had a very unpopular development imposed on it (Holy Cross). If HS2 is to be imposed on CSP as well, we have every right to expect that as much as possible will be done to minimise the negative impact.
The leading environment charity Friends of the Earth have reviewed the HS2 proposal and after initially welcoming the idea in principle, have concluded that this particular proposal is not only highly flawed, it will have no environmental benefit. Which for many, was one of the primary reasons for supporting HS2…:
“Friends of the Earth’s views
Investment in faster, better rail travel is urgently required, but the current high-speed rail plans will do little to cut climate-changing emissions – and may even increase them – nor will they entice many people out of planes and cars. We believe that the Government’s priority should be to upgrade our existing overcrowded rail network – so that ordinary travellers can benefit from better commuter and longer-distance services.
Q. Will the high speed line cut carbon emissions from transport?
A. No, not by much, if at all. Other transport improvements will achieve more and should be a higher priority. HS rail could help a little but only if other policies change.
The March 2010 environmental impact assessment showed that HS2 will be broadly neutral in carbon terms.
Although it will take some passengers away from more carbon intensive domestic flights it will mainly generate new journeys and will take passengers away from existing (less carbon intensive) conventional rail services.
Also, the assessment did not assume the introduction of any policies to encourage passengers to switch from cars and planes to the train – like higher taxes on motoring and domestic flights. Carbon savings might be greater if the route were later extended to the North of England and beyond to Scotland.
However, in any case, the vast majority of emissions from UK domestic passenger transport are from short journeys. High Speed Rail will not be an alternative for these trips. Transport carbon reduction policies should prioritise providing low carbon alternatives for these journeys. ”
Friends of the Earth
Be warned, this makes for scary reading…
Excerpt from the report by the Chiltern Society’s Geology expert:
Should this route be followed then again the potential impact on groundwater supplies will be considerable. The route runs through the interfluve area between the Misbourne to the east and the River Wye to the west, thereby affecting the catchment area of two of the major water systems in the area. Despite the water table being naturally depressed in this region to approximately 20 metres below ground surface, it will still be crossed by the tunnelling route given the length of the tunnel section to be cut. This being the case then all the concerns raised over Route 3 can equally be applied to this route giving the potential for both short term and long term damage to the aquifer system. Thames Water has four ground water sources in the area through which Route 2.5 will be cut.
All the routes indicated will require extensive construction via tunnels and deep cuttings in order to cross the Chilterns and access the Vale of Aylesbury to the north. It will be impossible to do this without:
- Potentially causing long term damage to the Chalk aquifer system (this applies to all three proposed routes).
- Causing pollution of the main water supply system for the north western Home Counties area and potentially further into north London – with the subsequent need to source water from other, much more distant parts of the country.
- Running the risk of serious ground collapse in areas with deep sections of weathered chalk.
- Depressing the water table in the Misbourne valley, resulting in –
- the total loss of surface flow in the Misbourne River system and the destruction of the adjacent habitats…
- and the aesthetic loss of the Misbourne River and its replacement by a dry valley.
- Causing the loss of both biological and geological SSSI’s and a Regionally Important Geological Site should Route 4 be selected.