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We continue to oppose HS2

We have consistently opposed the HS2 project since it was first announced in 2010 and we have always been disappointed by others’ ambivalence to it.

In Warwickshire, we support the movement away from people in their cars, switching to trains and other public transport where possible. However, a project that destroys so much of our countryside, that will do little to ease the capacity problems travellers face between the cities HS2 will reach, that will cost so much, really does not warrant our support. In fact, it should attract our opprobrium.

Far better to improve the whole nation’s rail network, ensuring everyone and not just a business elite benefit from a programme of rail renewal.

In the news:

August 2023:

Alex Ramage, John Dunn and Mark Sullivan respond to Larry Elliott’s call to scrap the high-speed rail project.

Published in The Guardian, Monday August 14th, 2023.

“Labour in government started HS2, so in office again it should admit its error and cancel it. Labour’s last transport secretary, Lord Adonis, required a proposal for HS2 from London to the West Midlands to be produced before the 2010 general election. His error was to rush out and impose a single plan. Less damaging and cheaper alternatives were disregarded.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) submitted one – a new 106-mile line alongside the M1 from London to Rugby and Leicester to French high-speed standard, plus a rail bypass of Stafford costed by Network Rail in 2008, and four-tracking the line between Coventry and Birmingham. This was presented to Labour, then to the Cameron government, to parliament, to the Oakervee review and to Boris Johnson’s staff in 2019.

CPRE’s plan, at 2019 prices, cost £14bn-15bn. It used known design parameters, met all needs for more capacity, minimised environmental impact and would have opened by 2032. It was never evaluated. Parliament’s committees refused to hear alternatives. Both parties are responsible for where we are now.”

Mark Sullivan CPRE Warwickshire


Two recently published letters debunking the idea that HS2 is going to be “good for the environment”:

Sir, Allan Cook, the chairman of HS2 attempts to defend the project by claiming that it “will offer some of the lowest transport carbon emissions: seven times less than passenger cars and 17 times less than domestic air travel” (letter, Sep 15). These numbers are a canard as they account only for the emissions generated by actual travel. Most of the total “lifecycle” emissions of road or air transport come from the driving or flying, while
more of those of trains come from the construction of the lines. Mr Cook omits these construction emissions to make the comparison misleadingly flattering to his project.
HS2’s own calculations, cited by the Oakervee Review this year, are that construction of the full proposed network would generate between eight and 14 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, while the first 60 years of operations would save 11-12 million tonnes. The result would be a lot of emissions in the present, as crews pour concrete over fields and woodland, and small net savings achieved decades from now or perhaps never. When the effects of greenhouse gases last for centuries and we are racing to meet a net-zero target by 2050, this is no help at all. Most importantly think of the opportunity cost: if we abandoned this grand project how much more carbon dioxide could we eliminate with a spare £100 billion?

David A McM Wilson, Cambridge

Sir, If the chairman of HS2 thinks his project will do anything to reduce car or air travel he has another think coming. What we know for certain is that HS2 will destroy yet more of the countryside and wildlife at the very time we are being told that this destruction has already reached a critical level (“Britain ‘is dodging its wildlife duty’ ”, News, Sep 14). To go ahead with the project at such a time is a revealing commentary on human nature and the government’s view of its priorities.

Anthony Jennings, London WC1

July 2020:
Flickr, Nick Wood. Walk for Woods and Wildlife, Kenilworth to Broadwells Wood, Warwickshire. | Flickr, Nick Wood

In the spirit of the 1980s protest (remember “Swampy” and the Newbury by-pass protest!), yesterday a group of activists from movements opposing HS2 took to the treetops in Cubbington Woods. Their aim was to draw attention to the imminent threat to the ancient woodlands that face destruction by HS2.

Cubbington Woods was the location of an earlier woodland protection camp, which saved it from being felled last year. HS2 contractors are undertaking preliminary works including drilling bore holes in the woods prior to the main felling of trees in September. These ancient woods, one of 108 set to be destroyed by HS2 are a haven for wildlife and much loved by the local community who, will also lose the UK’s oldest (255 year old) wild pear tree (English Tree of the Year 2015) to the project.

Our best wishes and thanks go to the activists themselves, ‘Windfall’, Flint and Venus and the Help Stop HS2 Team -Save Cubbington Woods, HS2 Rebellion and Stop HS2.


February 2020:

‘We feel terribly disappointed the Government has given the green light to this dreadful project and simply can’t understand why it’s going ahead –it’s certainly not going to benefit the new ‘blue wall’ of northern voters.

Perhaps our focus should now be on mitigation – trying to prevent the worst excesses, the destruction of ancient woodlands, the failure to properly compensate householders and businesses as their properties are bulldozed into oblivion by the mighty diggers of HS2 Ltd and on it goes.

But having nearly taken a vow of silence on the whole thing, I just can’t bring myself to end my opposition to such a wasteful and destructive project. So we will continue to hold HS2 to account and publish stories of interest.’ ~ Myles Thornton

Our Technical Secretary, Mark Sullivan, who also doubles as the Chairman of CPRE West Midlands Region, has had some success over the last few months with getting his letters opposing HS2 published in the broad sheets. Here is a flavour below:

sunday telegraph article by Mark 23.2.20