David Higgins Struggles To Join Reality Based Community

On the eve of releasing his new report which will provide more details on Phase 2 David Higgins has talked to the Sunday Times about his vision for HS2. He appears so desperate to find reasons for HS2 that he is now making them up.

More long distance commuting

Nobody except for him thinks that HS2 would support sufficient commuting from the North to London to make a difference.  An annual season ticket from Manchester to London already costs £13,684.  Of the few people who could afford it, how many would chose to spend 4 hours a day commuting door-to-door?

Companies transferring out of the South East

David Higgins is fond of presenting just half the facts on high speed rail.

He has said that the UK has 66% of FTSE 100 companies with their HQs in London and the South East, and 6% north of Birmingham.  He fails to observe that France, with its extensive TGV network, has 82% of the CAC 40 companies based in Paris.  So High Speed Rail is hardly the decentraliser he pretends.

He ignores that the KPMG “evidence”, that said HS2 would rebalance the economy, assumed that only transport connections matter.  Whereas every business will tell you that it is skills that are crucial.

Protecting the greenbelt

The idea that HS2 protects the Chilterns is a bad joke.

The reason the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is still outstandingly beautiful is because it has been successfully protected.  HS2 violates that protection: it passes through the widest part and is constructed on the surface for 55% of the 21km, destroying tranquil countryside and ancient woodlands as it goes.  David Higgins is trying to dress up this blatant disregard for the environment, as saving the AONB from other development.

HS2 will not help with the South East’s housing needs nor protect the environment.  Far from servicing new towns outside London’s green belt as it might, its first stop, at the Birmingham Interchange, actually destroys part of the West Midlands Green Belt.

People realise that HS2 is a bad deal for Britain, – it’s time the parties woke up

But whatever David Higgins may say the latest YouGov survey published in the Sunday Times today shows people are not fooled by Government deception and spin.  The majority of people see HS2 for the waste of money and environmental disaster it is. The survey shows an increasing proportion of people oppose HS2:

  • 55% of people now oppose HS2 – outnumbering supporters 2.5 to 1
  • More than half of people realise that HS2 will be environmentally damaging – outnumbering those who think its effect will be positive (just 10%) by more than 5 to 1
  • Few people see HS2 as a priority for infrastructure spend (9%), 3 times as many think we should improve existing railways (31%) or broadband (19%). NHS and social housing still tops the poll.

The mainstream political parties are out of touch with the people.

It’s time the Government stopped trying to put lipstick on this pig.  The ugly truth about HS2 is that it is a bad deal for Britain.

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