Thursday 28 November 2013
The Chilterns Conservation Board deplores the lip service the Government is paying to the Environmental Statement for High Speed 2.
On Monday the Hybrid Bill for HS2 had its First Reading in Parliament. At the same time the Government published the Environmental Statement for Phase 1 of HS2 (London to Birmingham). This mammoth 50,000 page document is supposed to detail the full environmental impacts of the HS2 line, the alternatives that were considered and the measures that will be undertaken to avoid, minimise and compensate for the huge amount of damage it will cause, not least to the Chilterns AONB. The Government is inviting comments on it, but is allowing far too little time for concerned organisations and individuals to read it.
“Giving us only until 24th January to digest and comment on this mammoth document is a disgrace” said Mike Fox, Chairman of the Chilterns Conservation Board.
“It is clear that the Government does not give a fig what anybody thinks about HS2. In practice this gives us only 41 working days, including Christmas Eve, to work on these plans. Plainly is it going to cause immense environmental damage and that is the reason the government is limiting, so severely, the time we have to take it all in and submit our comments.”
“In view of the scale of the project and extraordinary cost of £53 billion (and climbing) it is unforgiveable to rush through this stage. The environmental impacts will be vast and need to be carefully scrutinised. What we have learned from our contact with HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport so far is that they do not care what the impact is and have made minimal effort to avoid the damage they will cause. Planting trees is not sufficient when you have desecrated national heritage and destroyed, for example, 33 irreplaceable ancient woodlands.”
"The Government has done its best to limit access by the public to the plans. It is all available on line but you need a good computer and excellent broadband links to download it. If you haven’t got access to a computer, and 25% of the public don’t, then tough. It will be in a handful of libraries and council offices - but they only have limited opening hours and are closed, of course, over Christmas and New Year."
"The cynicism of the Government is deeply disappointing. If this is such a good idea why are they trying stop us taking a close look at it. The reality is that it is an outrageous waste of public money and they are pushing it through regardless of what the public thinks.”
Visit the Government's webpage for the HS2 Environmental Statement
Read the Conservation Board's comments on the draft Environmental Statement (July 2013)