Letter in Telegraph, 17 April2016
Environmental groups’ failure over HS2
SIR – It is now very clear indeed that the hugely expensive HS2 project is fundamentally flawed; yet it continues to make progress towards delivery in spite of compelling evidence justifying its cancellation.
Its passage has been assisted by two important factors that are as problematic as the project itself. The first is the failure of both governmental and non-governmental supporters to change direction on the basis of evidence. The second is the dramatic transformation of so-called environmental groups.
The Campaign for Better Transport, Friends of the Earth, the Campaign to Protect Rural England and Greenpeace have assisted this extremely environmentally damaging project at every stage.
These groups have betrayed their members as the project will, without question, add to greenhouse gas emissions, seriously damage the countryside, destroy woodland and generate levels of noise greater than those set in World Health Organisation community noise standards.
This marks a serious decline in the legitimacy of these environmental groups. It can be seen as a huge loss in a democracy constantly struggling with the excesses of government policies that emphasise the importance of the environment but in practice contribute to its degradation.
The environmental movement has embraced the old maxim, “if you can’t beat them, join them” – and we are all the losers.
[former Board member of Transport 2000 – now the Campaign for Better Transport]
Emeritus Professor, University College London [and member of the original board of directors of FoE]
Senior Fellow Emeritus, Policy Studies Institute
[independent transport planner]