Sunday, 15 January 2012

HS2 and the environment- "synopticity" points

Journalist Simon Jenkins sums up some of the anti-HS2 argumenst which seems to strike a chord with some on both the right (middle class residents close to the proposed route and their defenders) and left (largely anyone who wants to put the boot into the 'Tory-led Coalition') for slightly different reasons. The actual Appropriate then that the article was in both the Guardian and the Daily Mail.

What do the Labour Party think?
Largely in support - they started the plans. Though they now say they would change the route, presumably to make exploit the splits in the Conservative Party on the issue.

From this.

However, for some months there has been some confusion over the official Labour Party position on the project. The controversial route was originally designed by the previous Labour Government and published just before the last general election by the then Labour Transport Minister Lord Adonis. The Labour Party went into the last general election pledging to build High speed Rail 2.
However, following the election of the new Labour leader Ed Miliband and his ‘blank sheet of paper’ policy review, there were some suggestions that the Labour Party might drop its support for the project. The debate in the House of Commons last Thursday has now confirmed that this is not so.
During the debate the Labour shadow Transport Minister John Woodcock confirmed on the record that the Labour Party now fully support HS2, and a hypothetical future Labour Government would go ahead with the project.
According to Hansard, the official record of Parliament, Mr Woodcock said in the House of Commons:
The Y-shaped route of High Speed 2, which would link our cities, is a Labour initiative, and I can state clearly today that that vital lifeline of economic growth will be built by a future Labour Government and backed by Labour in opposition...we will work across the Floor of the House to secure parliamentary approval for the legislation needed to deliver the scheme...

“We looked at our commitment afresh in opposition, and we were right to do so...We looked at the business case again, examined the counter-proposals, and listened to the sincere and heart-felt objections expressed alongside the views of passionate advocates of the scheme...Our conclusion is that the business case stacks up...

What do the Green Party think?
In principal - for high speed rail as a carbon friendly alternative to short-haul air travel. HOWEVER, the Greens are against the current plans on the table. From their site

The Greens, who say they remain committed to genuine improvements in public transport, voted overwhelmingly to campaign against the HS2 project which goes to consultation on Monday [Feb 2011], saying proposals currently on the table would be "economically and environmentally unsound."
The Green Party remains in favour of high speed rail in principle, but any project would need to meet strict criteria.
Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MP said:
"The Green Party is opposed to the current HS2 proposals. 
  • The economic case is unsound. 
  • The claims about reducing CO2 emissions are questionable to say the least. And the huge damage which would be caused to local communities and their environment would be unsustainable."
Transport expert and Green Party spokesperson on sustainable development Professor John Whitelegg said:
  • "The proposed HS2 trains would burn 50% more energy mile-for-mile than the Eurostar.
  • "HS2 would produce more than twice the emissions of an intercity train.
  • "HS2 is a ‘rich person's railway' - the business case assumes that a third of passengers will be on incomes of £70,000 or more. Everyone knows the Greens and passionately committed to social justice and to the environment. The current HS2 proposals would serve neither."

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