Author Archives: John Whitehouse

HS2: Who cares about an old pear tree standing in its way?

cubbington pearIt was announced on the BBC Countryfile programme on Sunday evening that a 250-year old pear tree in Cubbington, Warwickshire had been voted as England’s Tree of the Year 2015 in a public vote organised by the Woodland Trust. The ancient tree will have to be destroyed in order to build the HS2 line between London and Birmingham.

Who cares, supporters of HS2 may cry? Isn’t it the ultimate bit of nimbyism to raise a fuss about an old tree standing in the way of progress?

The reason why the planned destruction of the Cubbington pear tree is important is that it exemplifies everything that is wrong about the way in which HS2 has been designed and is being rolled out. The design speed of 400 kph, which is quite unnecessary for a small crowded island such as ours, has determined a route which allows minimal deviation from a straight line, either horizontally or vertically. Just like the Roman roads two millennia ago, HS2 has to go straight through things rather than round them.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 73 Comments

Opinion: The Opportunity Costs of HS2

HS2 Brick WallToday’s publication (pdf) by the Liberal think tank Centre Forum, “Build the infrastructure: bin the wish list”, ought to make every Liberal Democrat stop and think again about the wisdom of spending £50 billion on HS2.

The report concludes that “projects must be prioritised with full consideration of opportunity costs”, saying:

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Opinion: HS2 is NOT Lib Dem policy!

The Lib Dem transport strategy “Building a Fast Track Britain” agreed in 2008 is an excellent document which is well worth re-reading. Lib Dem proponents of HS2 constantly refer back to this strategy when declaring their support for the project.

But High Speed Rail (HSR) does not necessarily mean HS2. On the day that the Public Accounts Committee publishes yet another damning indictment of the project, it’s worth making clear that HS2 is certainly NOT in line with Lib Dem transport strategy:-

  • It will not help to reduce carbon emissions. Its ultra-high speed specification will result in much higher emissions than a

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 77 Comments

Opinion: The whole country is talking about HS2, so why aren’t we?

In recent weeks the national media has been full of HS2. A number of prominent politicians have expressed opposition to the scheme, others like George Osborne have rushed to support it, the Institute of Directors members said it should be scrapped, etc etc.

For those of us who have been “in the firing line” of this massive project for over three years already, this national media attention is overdue but very welcome. For far too long, any opposition to HS2 has been brushed off as “nimbyism”, with media images of posh people in grand houses being inconvenienced by a project that would upset their idyllic and privileged existences!

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 55 Comments
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