I am pleased that today a Telegraph/ICM survey published today confirms that the majority of the public think the same with just 3% believing that the project will be delivered on budget and on time. Only 5% believes that it is "Essential for Britain" and more than two-thirds want to scrap the plan.
What I hadn't appreciated until now was the huge amount of damage that the construction will cause. Ancient woodlands will be destroyed, as will 310 miles of hedgerows. Seven major rivers are to be diverted and around 1,180 buildings will be demolished. Although I won't still be around, it seems that the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty will still be experiencing “moderate adverse effects” in 2086, 60 years after the line opens!It now seems that we might be directly affected in that the more detailed “water resources assessments” raise deeper questions over the impact on drinking water supplies. For this area, HS2’s impact on water resources is described as “major”, the effect as “very large” and the duration as “permanent”. Finally, the sting in the tail. I quote from the Telegraph:
The Government is also quietly giving itself the power to allow massive building development, including on Green Belt land, bypassing normal planning controls. Ministers will be able to order the compulsory purchase of any land where they believe HS2 creates “an opportunity for regeneration or development”.So, at any location along the route of the line, or within a reasonable distance of it, the government is planning to compulsorily purchase land for development. This could of course be anything between a small industrial estate to a whole new town, but as usual with this sort of thing, one has to be highly suspicious of the unknown.
The official documents relating to the development now extend to some 55,000 pages and it will be a very conscientious MP who is able to spend time studying the documentation before a vote in Parliament. But perhaps that is the objective, to swamp the system with paperwork and to hope nobody notices some of the "nasties". What we really need is a genuine enquiry into possible alternatives, which are simply dismissed by the government as "We have assessed the alternatives; they simply don’t give the increase in capacity needed.” This assessment hasn't been published, so the public, and our MPs, have no idea as to what alternatives were considered. However one looks at it, it is difficult not to believe that if the same amount of money was spent improving our transport systems elsewhere, far more people would benefit and the "time saved" would be far, far greater.