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A 9 year old criticises HS2

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January 2014

HS2 Meeting, 12th July 2013

These are notes, and I’ve tried to reflect the gist of what was said – in no way is this verbatim or complete.
On the panel:
Howard Thorp, Green Party
Chris Hindle, head of planning and transport at Cheshire West and Chester
Stephen O’Brien, MP for Eddisbury
Deanne Dukhan, AGHAST
Joe Rukin, Stop HS2
Paul Nuttall, UKIP MEP for the North West
In the chair, Ken Moth, local resident, architect, in a blighted property.

Mid-Cheshire Action Against HS2 is a non-political group. Also invited to the panel, pro HS2 people like Pete Waterman, DoT, HS2, Peter Davidson, Chris Howe.
Stephen O’Brien believes the business case has not been made. In a recent HS2 paving bill vote, he abstained, because the bill also covered compensation, should it go ahead.
Deanne represents AGHAST – a collective of anti-HS2 groups.
SO’B says he’s unusual amongst MPs in having a manufacturing industry background.
JR believes most MPs are looking after their seats. There are more rail experts coming out against HS2.
Margaret Joyce wanted a referendum: SOB said referendums are left for constitutional matters. There’s also the issue of who should be voting, there are lots of people not directly affected. DD – the latest cost for HS2 is over £80bn. JR was recently in an interview (too recently to be on youtube) with Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin. Looking at the plans, there are no farm or pedestrian bridges yet – so another cost.
PN: this’ll be the most expensive railway in the World, and it lacks connections to CrossRail and airports.
SO’B wanted connection to airports to take out internal flying. He favours double decker trains. And developing connections across the Pennines.
Bob Taylor – has there been a thorough cost benefit analysis?
HT – the West Coast Mainline is not near full capacity.
DD – he company does financial viability. HS2 is a real turkey. There’s no guarantee it will have customers. Sometimes projects do fail – eg in Spain [airport].
JR – DoT started off with a ratio of 2, went down to 1.4, then 1.2, now back to 1.4 after devaluing the countryside from £4bn to £1bn. They’ve also said that the time on trains is wasted time – they’ve not looked at all those businesspeople working away on laptops, who say that this is  their most productive time – no distractions.
CH – the government is now downplaying the speed, spinning more the delivery of growth and that the WCML is due to be full by 2026 (not to be quoted on that figure).
PN is not convinced it’s good. When the TGV linked Paris and Lille, businesses with offices in both closed their Lille branches.
JR – HS2 is about extending London’s commuter belt. The National Audit Office says that its commuter traffic that suffers congestion; only about 10% is long distance. HS2 means no freight, no intermediate stops, and no environmental case.
SOB – HS2 won’t bring growth now, when it’s needed.
JR – they say they won’t be cutting other services, but they plan on reducing their budget by 7.7bn – which says cuts.
DD – economic growth happens when you connect poorly served places. So a line to Penzance would do good, it’s a long slow haul at the moment. With an already well-served route, the advantage will only be in close proximity to the stations. Expect property prices there to grow!
HT – the OECD reported on the Tokyo to Osaka line. An intermediate city lost out.
Mr Arnold – electrical consumption for HS2 will be 2-3 times that of the WCML. At over 190mph there’ll be more noise and consumption.
Dr Alexis Egerton, query on sustainability, the line is for passenger traffic only
DD – It will be serving an existing corridor. The Netherlands has a similar project that is failing.
SO’B – it’s difficult to argue for freight. Industries don’t want the extra handling. For power, he favours nuclear.
Oliver Newham, Woodland Trust. There are 67 woodlands affected by HS2, 9 in Cheshire.
The question of Europe came up; a European Directive means that HS2 tracks will be the same as other UK tracks, but the carriages will be wider. JR said that Europe has redefined the ‘core network’ – in the UK that’ll be HS2 and the Great Western to Cardiff.
SO’B – local councillors have to deliver growth points. MPs just have to listen to constituents, with sometimes conflicting views.
Jeff Edwards mentioned an NEF report…..
HT – NEF also did the Green New Deal, which the Green Party favours – that kind of money can make real jobs. The National Audit Office and Public Accounts Committee are critical of HS2.
There’ll be more environmental damage to farmland – lots of productive land, and the Dane Valley. There’s already been lots of land lost to development.
DD – The NFU and CPRE are doing very little. The Wildlife Trusts and Woodland Trust have been fighting.
JR – doesn’t know where Cheshire CPRE are on this. Organisations receiving government funding seem to be quiet.
SO’B – the ‘growth’ argument seems to be neutering attack. We need to be using farmland for farming.
NFU representative – NFU is busy promoting the case against HS2.
KM – make sure local people chase their local offices.
Derek Armstrong – HS2 crosses brinefields, which supply chlorine industry jobs, and as storage for energy and power. The route runs over cavities that could sink the Eiffel Tower. Tell HS2 about Holford.
JR – the route planning has been a desk job. The Leeds branch of HS2 runs across coalmines, liable to subsidence.
CH’s job is to get this sort of information to HS2.
DD – geological issues will have costs.
Ian Parr – tackle your MP. DD – support your local action group.
Herbert (80), has 3 sons; one will have his business wrecked, another travels to London but wishes he didn’t….
Anthony Powell – climate scientists reckon we should cut our CO2 emissions to 10% by 2030 – will HS2 help? JR – we need local transport solutions to cut CO2 emissions.
Phil Smallwood, whose family have tenanted Greenheyes Farm (our hosts for the evening) for 60 years – Don’t sell gold assets – your land. 15-20 acres of this farm would be lost, along with its production of milk. Other farms would lose land. With his tow neighbours, they'd lose 90 acres - equivalent to 650,000 litres of milk. Where’s the food going to come from?
Trevor Forrester, Class Action: there’s a compensation scheme planned for properties within 60m of the line, includes legal fees, stamp duty on next property, etc. For those outside 60m, nothing, yet there’s blight within 1.5 – 2 miles. You might get compensation after construction; go back to them after a year following construction. One lady has wanted to move; needs a bungalow as unable to use stairs, but can’t now sell her house. Affected postcodes are blacked. It’s free to join Class Action, let them know your costs due to HS2; join and get the cost of HS2 going up.
Most of the over 200-strong audience were against HS2, a few were undecided, a few were for HS2 – unfortunately for the debate quality they didn’t speak up.

See Mid Cheshire Against HS2 website, for another report of this event. Mid Cheshire Against HS2 is also on Facebook

Cheshire Wildlife Trust criticise HS2 Proposed plans for High Speed Rail could put Cheshire’s most valued and fragile habitats at risk.
The conservation charity has initially identified several designated Local Wildlife Sites (LWS) that it says will be ‘directly impacted’ by the proposed HS2 ‘Y’ route, along with additional fears over its own Holcroft Moss nature reserve near Risley Moss in Warrington.
The affected Local Wildlife Sites contain habitats including ancient woodland – generally only recognised when more than 400 years old – species-rich grasslands and ponds.
Of most concern for the charity however, has been the route shown running to the edge of its Holcroft Moss reserve, the last remaining peat bog in the county that has not been ‘cut over’ or affected by peat extraction works.
Other wildlife areas where the ‘Y’ route will pass in close proximity include National Nature Reserve and internationally recognised ‘Ramsar’ site Rostherne Mere north of Knutsford, where HS2 have already said that measures will need to be taken to minimise ‘indirect effects’ on birds.
From CWT website.
From a link station south of Crewe, the route, initially following the West Coast Mainline in a tunnel under Crewe, would fork east from it and run between Middlewich and Winsford, crossing King Street, over the A556 where it meets the A559 Manchester Road, then crossing the M6 just north of its Knutsford junction, then running parallel to the A556 until Bucklow Hill, where it diverges - one branch running to Manchester, the other to unite with the West Coast Main Line. Map, 15.9MB pdf. For more detailed maps, see map index on DoT website; our section is HSM10.
The mainline route runs east of Lymm to rejoin the WCM between Ashton-in-Makerfield and Wigan.
The Manchester route follows a similar route to the M56, before heading in a tunnel to the city, to the east of Prince’s Parkway.

Rail Walks in the Knutsford area

A booklet has been produced, detailing five walks of 4 to 8 miles, starting at Plumley, Knutsford, Mobberley, Ashley and Chelford. It includes details of transport links and refreshment.

Anyone interested in getting involved at Greenbank or other stations along the Mid Cheshire Line should:
Contact Sally Buttifant, Community Rail Officer , railofficer[at]midcheshirerail.org.uk: see http://www.midcheshirerail.org.uk

Community Web Kit provided free by BT