Thursday, 11 March 2010

HS2 - the big day!

Rather than write another long piece about our opinions on the whole HS2 debate, this post will just round up a few of the articles that have been published on it.

I have been on the radio twice commenting on it. The first appearance was on the Ed Doolan show on Radio WM along with Paul Kehoe from Birmingham International airport (or London Elmdon as it seems to want to become), who was obviously loving the fact that the route takes people direct to his airport so they can fly more and not happy that anyone was being critical of the plans. He wondered "what planet Friends of the Earth are on" - umm that'll be the one in the name, you know, the one with dwindling supplies of fossil fuels and an urgent need to reduce carbon emissions. I also recorded a few comments for Smooth Radio and sent out press releases to other media folk. A copy of the one from the day before is on our website.

If you like reading the whole long detailed reports on the scheme, then this is the place to go. A few key things I drew out of the section on HS2 and climate change in the appraisal on sustainability were that the carbon reductions are not dependant on this scheme, but many other factors in government policy and investment outside it. Reductions in flying are the only thing that will make significant carbon savings - and then only if slots for domestic flights freed up at crowded airports aren't replaced by more international ones. Also, power generation is key to its success and so far the government's record on getting renewables onto the grid isn't great, so we'll either be reliant on a lot of nuclear, which is also extremely problematic, or more polluting power stations to run these trains.

Advantage West Midlands have been talking about key transport projects (HS2 being one of them), but then also talk about the extension of the runway at BIA and more capacity on the motorways, yet still talk about tackling climate change. Talk about mixed messages.

Passenger groups and CBT were given their say in one article in the Birmingham Post, which was again fairly positive apart from CBT stating "Fares must be cheaper than flying and driving and HSR must be an alternative to new motorways and airports."with which I agree.

The Tories responded by rubbishing Labour's plans because they don't go to Heathrow! I agree that their plans are flawed, but so are most and more airport stations aren't the answer.

The business people had their say about how wonderful it all is, although where they got the time of over 2hrs for the average journey to London now, when it's easy to do it in under 1hr 20 if you want to pay Virgin prices I don't know. Lord Adonis gave the game away a bit with one quote in his
official statement "As we grow wealthier as a nation, so we travel more and move more freight." he said, which is a problem if we are looking to reduce resource use, localise and build a more sustainable and resilient economy.

The stirrer's article
asked "will Brum become a North London suburb?", which is a line that concerns us in this debate. How do we stop it from just being part of the commuter belt with people buying property here and taking the train to London to work. Will this whole scheme just suck money out of the region as it's easier to travel away, rather than bringing it in?

Much more has been written, but that gives a bit of a round up for this day. See last week's post on my reflections after the summit for more opinion.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Perhaps all these self proclaimed clever people are not so smart as they think they are. Just take Geoff Inskip, head of Centro, who brays along with the line that extending Birmingham airport is the Regions main transport prority. http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/s/219/219023_metrolink_big_bang_boss_to_quit.html
When he 'quit' Manchester, it was seen as a major blow for Manchester's light rail expansion. That expansion is going great guns. FOE is right to scrutinise the transport games.

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