Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Protestors not NIMBI'S

Claims by the Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond MP in an interview in The Times that opponents of HS2 “are mostly Nimbys” peddling inaccurate “scare stories”, whilst he is acting “in the national interest”, have been challenged by the former North Warwickshire MP and Minister Mike O’Brien.

Mike O’Brien said:

“Philip Hammond has overstepped the mark. His comments are offensive and he should apologise. Firstly because there are good principled reasons to oppose HS2 and, secondly, because people who see their villages and environment blighted should never be dismissed by name calling.

S2 is four times the cost of the average European high speed line. It generates less benefit per pound invested than any other transport projects. It is not in the national interest. It would be a much better investment to fully upgrade the West Coast mainline line.”

The Transport Secretary made his comments as he launched a public consultation about the HS2 scheme, when he promised a decision must be taken on the basis of “national interest” – not the worries of local people living alongside a new line. He said HS2 would deliver economic benefits of £44bn to Britain over the next 60 years. He claimed the project would cost £17bn after subtracting expected fare revenues from capital and operating costs and that this would be exceeded by £44bn of economic benefit resulting from greater capacity and speed and the boost to British business. Hammond pointed to an opinion poll of 2,000 which suggests that five times as many support the plans as oppose them. 

Mike O’Brien says “The government’s commitment to the project is at odds with its promise to give more power to local people about decisions that impact on their communities.

“The trains will only arrive ten minutes earlier in Birmingham. That will not make any real difference to any business decision. The proposed HS2 route would damage the economy of Coventry by side lining the City. The numbers using the present west coast mainline would fall. It would probably result in the current train journey’s to Coventry station being cut from every twenty minutes to once an hour or less. That will not benefit the economy of the area. The West Midlands is more than just Birmingham.

“The economic and environmental benefits are certainly not enough to outweigh the impact on villages in North Warwickshire like Water Orton and Middleton.

“A year ago Phillip Hammond was promising to look at alternative routes. Once he got his red box, he forgot that promise. Well, the alternative route is available. It is to finish the up grading of the current west coast mainline.”

Mike O’Brien has said that he will submit his own evidence to the inquiry. Last year he held thre large public meetings on the issue.

He believes Labour lost the North Warwickshire seat because of “The ill-conceived proposal for HS2.”

He said, “In 2008 after the Tories said they preferred high speed rail as an alternative to expanding Heathrow airport, Lord Adonis, the Transport Secretary tried to outflank them by coming up with HS2. It was a bad concept and bad politics. I was surprised when the Tories came into office that they embraced it as their idea. I predict this thing will collapse because there is so much wrong with it. I am glad to see that the Labour Party in opposition are waking up to the problems and are reconsidering their position. I hope they will come out against it soon. They ought to. This is the time to get off this train because it will not be leaving the station.”

Mike O’Brien can be contacted on 07900432199 or 02476 362452

No comments: