Why am I doing this?

Welcome to the first in a planned series of blogs in which I will consider the issues for the environment raised by the High Speed Two (HS2) project.

I feel that I must begin with a confession. I was born three years after World War II and so belong to a generation that has probably done more environmental damage than any other. I am addicted to hydrocarbons; I just can’t get enough of them. Of course I know, deep down, that this can’t go on forever – even if you don’t believe in global warming and the link with greenhouse gases, it is obvious that supplies of oil and natural gas won’t last forever – but at least I will be dead before the problems get too great.

I also live in a house that was built in the former garden of the village Manse (vicarage). Indirectly then, I am probably guilty of environmental vandalism in my own village; certainly the vicar wasn’t too pleased.

The worst confession of all is that I live in the village of Cubbington, just on the outskirts of Leamington Spa, Warwickshire. The proposed route for HS2 comes within about six hundred yards of my house, although the track will be in a cutting at this point and so I am hoping that the effects will not be too bad. However when my opponents want to upset or discredit me, they use the “n” word – you know the one that I mean. Using this label means that they don’t have to listen to my arguments, because I would say that, wouldn’t I.

Actually my concern about HS2 is less with the effect that it may have on me directly and more that it will destroy some beautiful countryside to the east of my village, which is a valuable amenity for our residents; I hope to say more about this local environmental damage in a future blog. If this concern for my immediate environment means that I earn the “n” label, then so be it. However, I hope that those of you who stick with me will learn that I am worried about other local environments that are not on my doorstep and also about the environment in general (yes, I will be talking about greenhouse gases at some stage).

The Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP, the Secretary of State for Transport, is about seven years younger than me. I don’t think that I am doing him a disservice by lumping him into the same generation as me. He certainly seems to share my generation’s couldn’t care less attitude about the environment, if his pronouncements about HS2 are anything to go by.

Both Mr Hammond and I owe it to the generations following ours to take a long hard look at the HS2 proposals and what they mean to our environment; this examination should look at the facts and avoid exaggeration or unfounded assertions. I certainly plan to do this; I rather fear that Mr Hammond will not.


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