I recently visited a part of the Chiltern Hills (tree pictured), threatened with development if the HS2 high speed rail proposal went ahead. What price the despoilation of our beautiful countryside? The Green Party has been taking a lead, amongst all the political parties, in opposing this ill-conceived plan. (See STOP HS2 campaign site here and here, my report on recent public meeting in Brent, and a letter in Brent Times). The campaign against HS2 was also highly visible in the village of Great Missenden (on the approach to the Chilterns, google map below), from where these posters present the case against succinctly.
Great Missenden says Stop HS2. Why? "No business case. No environmental case. No money to pay for it."
Gt. Missenden: "The country's broke. Axe HS2"
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National press and media reports yesterday of Network Rail endorsement of the HS2 plan paving the way for a Government approval is cause for alarm (e.g. Channel 4), if only for fear that the government has already made up its mind and is trying to soften the blow by media management. NR were already firmly in the yes camp before the consultation concluded.
Local press reports this week, 'Brent light railway campaigners to 'step up' fight if HS2 goes ahead' (Brent Times, 8 Jan 2012) surely risk distracting attention away from the campaign to Stop HS2 proper. The planning approvals, even if an all-clear is given by the government, have a long way to run. I think it would be good for proponents of light rail not to risk having their campaign recruited by proponents of an ill-conceived HS2 plan. Any hint that there may be a silver lining on the cloud hanging over the residents of Camden, Kilburn and Kensal Green (and that's just our locality, see proposed route) because of an additional station that could be used by both schemes, is hardly going to compensate for the negative impact of having a tunnel built under them!
John Whitelegg, Green Party spokesperson on sustainable development, and an expert in the transport industry has said: "The reasons for opposing the current set of proposals revolve round the flawed business case (e.g. assuming that people do not work whilst on a train journey), the damage to environmentally sensitive areas, the forecast increases in car and air transport that are associated with high speed rail demand forecasts and the very poor performance of high speed rail in reducing greenhouse gas emissions."
Brent Green Party will continue to monitor developments in the HS2 proposal and to argue the case against.