Login Register

Green councillor slams HS2 plans

By Staf Newsletter  |  Posted: February 04, 2013

Comments (1)

A GREEN party councillor representing Stafford and Stone has slammed the plans for the controversial high speed railway HS2.

Councillor Tom Harris, of Stafford’s Forebridge ward, said there were three main reasons his party wanted the current £32billion proposals thrown out.

“Firstly, the economic case for HS2 is far from convincing,” he said. “HS2 is likely to be unaffordable for most people, even though everyone’s taxes will pay for it to be built.

“Just look at the disastrous Dutch ‘Frya’ high speed line, which opened only two years ago and is now losing £320,000 a day, with passengers shunning its premium fares and trains running up to 85 per cent empty.”
Councillor Harris said ‘bold claims’ about HS2 bringing growth failed to stand up to scrutiny.

“Birmingham, which has seen a 60 per cent rise in rail passengers over the last ten years, has seen only a 0.2% growth in employment,” he said. “Why not spend a fraction of the money by fitting carriages with fast wireless internet so people can make better use of their journey time?"

“Secondly, in an extraordinary waste of scarce resources, the proposed trains would burn 50% more energy per mile than the Eurostar,” he said. “And finally, the environmental and human impact of the current route would be devastating along its entire length, seeing beautiful countryside carved up and thousands of families’ lives ruined.”

Councillor Harris said he had heard from residents in Hopton whose homes were directly on the proposed line and that they were ‘at their wits end’.

“The government simply should not be proposing this madness,” he said.

He said, unlike the Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour Parties who all supported the plans, the Green Party was taking a clear line against them and detailed proposals to invest the money elsewhere in transport infrastructure.

“Our first priority is getting people about conveniently and affordably with local public transport schemes, as well as working on ways to improve air quality and reduce CO2 and particulate emissions, such as safe routes to school,” he said. “We think public transport should be re-regulated, with councils ensuring sensible levels of provision and a truly integrated system. HS2 will divert cash from local schemes for years and years.”

Read more from Staff Newsletter

Do you have something to say? Leave your comment here...

max 4000 characters
  • Staf Newsletter  |  February 16 2013, 7:52AM

    The Benefits of HS2 While I agree with Tom Harris that there is a legitimate question about the need for a High Speed railway I would still ask him whether he accepts the need for extra rail capacity? The Victorian rail system enabled the growth of Britain as the greatest industrial power at the time. Here in Staffordshire we have benefited from being the natural corridor for canal, rail and then motorway to the west of the Pennines ever since. It was the advent of the oil industry and development of the diesel engine that closed down much of the railway system by Beeching. At that time cheap oil and efficient vehicles took over the distribution of all that we make and consume. Miles of railway lines were ripped up throughout the county because diesel was plentiful and met all our needs. Motorways and diesel powered artics supply all our food just in time to keep the shelves full. Is Cllr. Harris sure that the diesel will keep flowing to meet our needs and, more importantly of our grandchildren? If the continual rise of pump prices was not warning enough surely the disastrous consequences of drilling in deeper and deeper water and under arctic ice tells us that the oil companies are getting desperate to find new reserves. Our greatest industrial success story is the production of more and more Jaguar Land-Rovers for export around the world but that means even more use of oil products and a risk that in thirty years time the price will seriously affect food production and distribution. Diesel is clearly the life blood of the world. While tractors cannot manage without it it is surely to the credit of all the main political parties to recognise that where we can use electricity for transportation we should invest in a modern electrified rail system. If that is agreed even a conventional extra rail line is going to upset just as many people throughout the country. Farmers are now supposed to be providing both food and fuel for a world population that may rise to 10 billion by the end of the century. Nobody, to my knowledge, has managed to find a crop or a magic method that will replace diesel produced from crude oil. Surely we must be prepared for such a situation. Fortunately, the coalition government have recognised that we must prepare to use sustainably produced electric power for the transportation of food around this country. Short sighted politicians, with an eye to the next election, will no doubt support opponents of HS2, who are mainly house owners justifiably concerned with the value of their property but we all need to consider the greater needs of those who come after us.