HS2 – July 2020
Having had discussions with Rob Butler, the working group is looking at refreshing the approach to the Mined Tunnel proposal. Rob is not keen to keep pushing the scheme if new elements are not included. We will be stressing the cost of the HS2 scheme and comparing our scheme to it. We will also be focusing on the poor engineering and management performance of HS2. Also, the weakness of the already weak business case post Covid-19.
We are also pursuing a strategy showing that ignoring the Mined Tunnel proposal is an example of poor decision making on financial matters and on engagement. We feel that Wendover cannot be unique and that this casual attitude to good ideas and to saving public money must be being replicated route wide.
Rob Butler received a letter from the HS2 Minister once again ignoring our detailed technical information and repeating the inaccuracies of the past. Michael Byng, our costs expert, and Lord Berkeley are addressing the errors it contains, as it refers to areas that they have particular knowledge of.
DfT have refused point blank to allow us to see any evidence, from formal reviews, from engineering opinion or from HS2’s costing experts, that might support their position. We are looking to continue the questions in the House of Lords in a determined attempt for us to get sight of the supposed reviews and consideration reports that DfT say they looked at and rejected our scheme. To that end Baroness Young and Lord Berkeley are working with our lobbying advisor to develop searching questions.
The Transport Committee, Chairman Huw Merriman cannot meet with us, but he would receive a written submission from WPC outlining our proposal.
The Treasury also asked for sight of our proposal. The treasury is the real deal, charged with balancing the books after Covid-19, a saving like we’ve offered must be interesting to them.
The working group had a meeting with EK. They are now EKFB standing for Eiffage Kier Ferrovial BAM. So that is two extra vultures to feed. We pushed them on the noise situation. They still haven’t got definitive answers. We pushed them on the cricket club and the ground investigation works. Nothing substantive to report.
I normally like to keep you abreast of what Mark Thurston is up to. He’s been reported quite widely saying that HS2 is “Britain’s biggest environment project”. You’ll note he didn’t slip positive into the phrase. He was quickly shot down by the people that know about these things. RSPB, Friends of the Earth, and other experts. There is apparently a word for what Mark was doing. It’s called “Greenwashing” and Mark was caught at it on World Environment Day. I’d advise the CEO of a business that is, it appears, ignoring the natural cycle as it grubs up hedgerows and flattens ancient woodland, to perhaps steer clear of the green issues.