Essential facts about HS2 (17 June 2013): With Government debating their HS2 Preparation Bill, HS2AA think it’s timely to remind MPs, Lords and members of the public just what are the basic facts about HS2. Do have a look here
HS2AA takes its legal fight to the Court of Appeal (10 June 2012):
Today HS2AA began its appeal of Justice Ouseley’s decision in March 2013 on HS2 that the Government had complied with the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Regulations. Read more
Court of Appeal case
(9 June 2013): HS2AA are appealing the judgement on their environmental case. This is despite Governments attempts to halt our legal challenge by refusing to agree a sufficiently low cost cap as they had done previously, on legal costs. After six weeks of tussling HS2AA were forced to take the matter to court last week, where the Government lost, and HS2AA heard on Friday the previous protective cost order was extended to cover this appeal. So we will be in court on Monday 10 June. Commenting on the case Hilary Wharf, said "The fact that the DfT were willing to resort to bully boy tactics and ignore their treaty obligations (under Aarhus) to avoid facing a legitimate legal challenge shows both its disregard for people’s rights and a lack of faith in its own case.
" See our press release here
Latest consultation is an omnishambles
(6 June 2013): HS2AA catalogue the long list of reasons why the latest environmental consultation on HS2 is shambolic. Adverts in wrong papers, libraries sent random maps and not for their own area, individuals ordering and re-ordering documents and still getting wrong or no deliveries. On top of that there are serious omissions and misrepresentations, and all this for material totalling almost 5000 pages with responses expected in 8 weeks – and already nearly 3 have passed. You can read the letter to HS2 Ltd here
. It calls for an extension to at least 12 weeks, more ways to get answers to questions, and omissions/misrepresentations corrected. Hilary Wharf , Director HS2AA said “There is a huge amount to absorb, its clearly been a rushed job and it’s not fair that those already blighted from HS2 should suffer as a result”.
Paving the way to ££££ recklessness
(6 June 2013): With Government launching their Preparation Bill - or Money Bill, to spend spend spend on HS2, HS2AA launch a new advertisement . You can see it here
HS2AA announce £100,000 target is met
(29 May 2013). HS2AA are really pleased to announce they have met their target for the Judicial Review Appeal. They send a big thankyou to everyone who contributed. Hilary Wharf, Director HS2AA, said “The British public have joined the National Audit Office (NAO) and Major Projects Authority and are putting their hard earned cash up to hold the Government to account for their incompetent handling of this white elephant." See our press release here
Major Projects Authority report finally leaked out
(24 May 2013): The truth about the status of UK’s £350bn worth of major projects has finally been released. HS2 is up with other high profile projects. On top of the NAO report that made crystal clear that the economic benefits of HS2 are unclear, just how much more evidence does the Government need to call a halt to this white elephant?. The breakdown of the 191 projects is here
New Consultations - have your say
(24 May 2013): HS2 Ltd/DfT have issued a Draft Environmental Statement for Phase 1 (London to Birmingham) for an 8 week consultation which closes on 11 July. It gives detailed maps and descriptions of the environmental effects of what is proposed. The documents to look at are here
and you can respond by e-mail, on line or by freepost, see here for details
. There is a response form here
. There is a second consultation running in parallel asking for comments on parts of Phase 1 which have significant design changes including Euston Station, junctions, depots and maintenance loops; more details are available here
EHS scheme not fit for purpose
(23 May 2013): HS2AA submitted its 84 page response
to the Government’s latest compensation consultation for Phase 2 (Birmingham to Leeds and Manchester) of HS2. HS2AA concludes that this latest consultation was misleading and unfair, despite the additional information and last minute extension it pressed HS2 Ltd for. The proposed Exceptional Hardship Scheme (EHS) simply doesn’t meet its claimed purpose – to help those whose properties are blighted and suffer a loss in value as a result of HS2. See our press release here
. Hilary Wharf, director HS2AA said, “Having already been caught-out conducting one unlawful consultation, we expected the Government to have made more effort. But the stark truth is that hundreds of thousands of properties are being blighted by Phase 2 of HS2 and Government’s proposals are neither fair nor adequate. They are not fit for purpose. Compensation should not be by “exception” and cover only “hardship” cases with most people unable to get anything irrespective of how blighted their property is. The only test that should matter is whether your property is blighted due to HS2.”
HS2AA alert Select Committees
(22 May 2013): HS2AA have written to both select committees over their concern at misleading statements made by the DfT. The NAO pinpointed concerns about how the latest rail model had not been used for HS2, despite being adopted a year earlier for WCML franchising. DfT however had suggested the latest data had been used. Similar misleading statements were made over the value of time data used. See our letters here
(to MH) and here
BBC Newsnight – episode 3
(broadcast on 17 May) After the investigations early this month into compensation & healing the north south divide, this Newsnight programme reveals major flaws in the business case. You can see it here
Damming National Audit Report on HS2
(16 May 2013): The NAO release their report on HS2 which undermines the fundamentals of the HS2 business Plan. You can read the full report here
and a short summary of HS2AA’s commentary
on it. The report identifies a large number of issues, from little evidence to support Governments claims on addressing the north south divide; using outdated data and assumptions on the core issues of valuing time savings (that account for half the benefits) and the demand forecast; ignoring price competition and not demonstrating that the alternatives of improving the WCML don’t meet the forecast demand. Hilary Wharf, Director HS2AA said “The NAO’s report is a scathing indictment of the bogus case Government has constructed. HS2 simply cannot withstand independent scrutiny. The NAO joins a long list of independent bodies and economists who find HS2’s planning and business case woefully lacking. NAO catalogue numerous failings, from DfT’s assumptions on valuing journey time savings – incredibly half the claimed benefits depend on no one working on trains – to finding little evidence HS2 rebalances the economy. It is astounding that Government – rather than dropping HS2 and saving £35bn of taxpayers’ money – table a Preparation bill to waste money even faster.”
Read our press release here
There's still time to fight back. HS2AA is reaching out to the residents of Camden with a new advertising campaign that asks for their support in the upcoming environmental Judicial Review appeal. The new advertisement highlights the demolition, construction and disruption that the proposal line will cause in Camden. The ads highlight the forced re-think on the Euston development as being latest in a long line of fundamental design flaws in the white elephant project.
BBC Newsnight – episode 2 on the business case: (broadcast on 7 May)
After the Newsnight investigation into compensation, the BBC have now examined the Government’s case that HS2 will heal the north south divide. The Programme not only shows that the experience from Spain is that high speed rail is not the panacea that Government say it is, but that the academic experts who have studied its effects internationally, agree. It’s more likely that it’s the capital city that benefits. You can see it here
. Hilary Wharf, Director HS2AA said “When will MPs wake up and look at the evidence rather than listen to the rhetoric? If anyone benefits it’s the south, not the north. And such benefits only come when part of a package of other financial inducements – that are simply not part of what’s on offer with HS2. Professor Tomaney is just one of many experts who agree the evidence for any transformational benefits is lacking”.
Paving Bill shows HS2 project is offtrack
(8 May 2013) : The Paving Bill introduced in the Queens speech signals that HS2 is over budget and behind schedule. The Paving Bill was never part of the planned approvals process set out in January 2012. It is needed because the project is over budget and urgently requires more funds. It also recognises that the plan to have the Hybrid bill approved by Parliament before the next election will not now happen. Read our press release here
. Hilary Wharf, Director HS2AA said “At a time when all other government departments are being told to scrutinise their spending and make cuts, the DfT will be given more money for a massively wasteful project. It flies in the face of common sense to keep throwing money at a project with a flawed business case, which is environmentally destructive and won’t be built for decades - if ever. At what point will MPs wake up to what they could do for the country, including the North, with a £34bn plus pot of gold?”
Blight information still withheld
(2nd May 2013): In a letter responding to the information released last week when the Phase 2 EHS consultation deadline was extended, HS2AA Director, Hilary Wharf says "While we were pleased they have finally provided the new information to consultees, we were disappointed that HS2 Ltd and DfT seem to remain intent on holding back key information that bears on the extent of blight and the adequacy of their proposals: this is hardly the position of an organisation with any real commitment to fair consultation. We also identified what looks like another error in their documents”
. Read the full letter here
Government lose nerve at last minute on phase 2 EHS consultation
(26 April 2013): Just 4 days before this latest consultation closes Government finally concede to HS2AA’s complaints about not releasing the relevant information on blight and phase 1 EHS cases, and correcting an error we pointed out, so that consultees can respond properly. HS2AA have been exchanging letters on this for 11 weeks and only now with the prospect of more legal action and losing another high profile case, does Government cave-in, and make any attempt to consult more fairly. New key information has been issued and the deadline extended (to 20 May 2013). Hilary Wharf, director HS2AA, said “In fact this new information is crucial - it demonstrates beyond doubt that blight is far more extensive than the consultation documents implied – and the reasoning for having a hardship based interim stop-gap scheme is now revealed as a shabby ruse."
Read our full press release
, and the extra material
they have released, together with the full blight report
by CBRE and our review
HS2AA latest advert
(26 April 2013): HS2AA release a new simple message on the business case for HS2 – the costs of HS2 are clearly growing – and the benefits continue to be hyped. Take a look.
Government continue to make mistakes on compensation
(19 April 2013): HS2AA have written to the Secretary of State
asking for an extension to the Phase 2 period EHS consultation (that ends 29 April) while they make available all the relevant information on blight and performance of current EHS to consultees, and respond on what looks like an error in the consultation materials. HS2AA have also raised issues about the Government’s stance on blight and compensation on Newsnight – that individuals should be expected to wait up to decades until its built – either bearing the loss themselves in the intervening period, or being forced to stay put. Separately
they have asked that discussions about better solutions take place before the next consultation and provided a detailed report on the Property Bond approach
. Hilary Wharf, Director HS2AA said “This is a head in the sand approach by DfT. They think we won’t notice they have not given the necessary information to consultees. They have clearly forgotten that was one factor which led us to win our legal case against them. They hope they can just offer the same long term deal options as before and that HS1 is a winning card – but they have ignored the differences with HS2 and have plainly not convinced the property market which is where blight gets cashed for real, never mind convincing the 300,000 property owners (well over half a million people) who are forced to suffer the consequences. Government must talk to the key stakeholders before their next consultation – and we don’t just mean us, but the main industry bodies who are the professionals in this area.”
BBC newsnight on compensation
(13 April 2013): after HS2AA’s win in court on compensation, BBC newsnight ran a programme
last night on the unfairness of the compensation arrangements. You can see it here. Hilary Wharf, director HS2AA said “Listening to Simon Burns on BBC newsnight you would not think he realised that over 300,000 properties - well over half a million people – have suddenly had many tens of thousands of pounds wiped off the value of their homes – and all for a project that does not even have a business case. If he truly believes HS2 won’t have an impact then he should have no difficulty agreeing to a Property Bond solution, which makes much more sense than his last compensation scheme – now of course overturned by the courts.”
HSR- the wrong type of infrastructure?
(19 March 2013) – Government are pushing hard on their infrastructure agenda. A recent ipsos mori poll asked the public what they thought would best boost the UK economy. The results are contained in a special edition of Total Politics that discusses the Government’s infrastructure plans
- and in the middle is the HS2AA advert – just 4% of people thought High Speed Rail was the answer. See our advert here
. Hilary Wharf, director HS2AA said ”MPs from all parties should be worried that the public at large is not taken in by Government spin on HS2”
HS2AA WINS COMPENSATION JUDICIAL REVIEW (15 March 2013). Mr Justice Ouseley today published his 300 page judgement on the JRs including the two brought by HS2AA - on compensation and environmental protection:
· In a major victory for the more than 300,000 households blighted by HS2, the Court ruled that Justine Greening acted unlawfully in her 2012 decision on compensation, as it was based on a fundamentally flawed consultation process. This should lead to the Government re-consulting on the compensation scheme in a fair and lawful way.
· On the environmental case, the Judgment leaves the field clear for HS2AA to appeal, which it will be doing.
Hilary Wharf, Director HS2AA said “Today’s judgement is a huge victory for the hundreds of thousands of people whose lives are blighted by HS2. The Government’s shabby attempt to railroad through an inadequate compensation scheme whilst ignoring the views of ordinary people have been judged to be unlawful”. “The judge was highly critical of DfT’s actions, described as “very odd”, “muddled” and “ doomed from the start”.
You can read our press release here
. A short summary of the judgement that we have put together is here
. You can read the full judgement (259 pages) here
HS2AA heard later in the day that that the whole compensation decision will be quashed and there will be a fresh consultation on compensation which will include the Property Bond.
HS2AA have also won the right to appeal on the environmental case on its SEA grounds.
Third anniversary of HS2 announcement
(10 March 2013): Thousands of campaign supporters today contacted Patrick McLoughlin and Simon Burns to remind them of their opposition to HS2 and why it is a bad deal for Britain. You can read their message here
HS2 forced to reveal furthest compensation case
: (7 March 2013). Following an FOI case that was successfully appealed HS2 Ltd have now published details to say the furthest EHS case is 800m from the centre of the line. They also give other details - just 2% of cases are over 601 metres (the HS1 maximum), with 46% over 200m. They make clear that distance is just one of the location factors used to decide if a property is affected by HS2, but these are all only physical factors and disregard the property blight effects (that depends on a different test). You can read the appeal court decision here
and the FOI response here
. Hilary Wharf, Director HS2AA said ”This information shows why HS2 ltd fought so hard to keep it secret. It shows that the vast majority of cases of property blight are not covered by the Government’s latest proposals that restrict the purchase zone to 60m or 120m in rural areas. This surely gives the lie to Government’s proposals being “generous” and covering blight or even serious blight. ”
. Read our press release here
Phase 1 compensation
(1 Feb 2012): Yesterday, HS2AA submitted a 50+ page report on the Government’s proposals on compensation for phase 1. It demonstrates how they are inequitable, inadequate and not based on the evidence. HS2AA argue less than 2% of those affected will get any compensation over the next 14 years, and have to bear a £5bn loss. The response to the Governments consultation proposes dropping the hardship rules from the long term scheme and simplifying the schemes so they are based on the loss in property values people are experiencing. But HS2AA believe the real solution lies in overhauling the present archaic arrangements and they continue to champion adopting the Property Bond
. They explain why the Governments objections are ill-founded. Read their report here
Hilary Wharf, Director HS2AA, said “ It’s time the Government woke up to that fact that people will not put up with having to bear a disproportionate share of the cost of HS2 – paying both as a taxpayer and as an individual, when they find that HS2 wipes thousand off the value of their property. If the Government can’t afford proper compensation then they can’t afford HS2”
: HS2AA also responded to the Governments consultation on "safeguarding" ie the legal process whereby planning decisions relating to the land needed for building and operating Phase 1 of HS2 will no longer be finally decided by the local authority but instead by HS2 Ltd. HS2AA raised several issues - notably they had legal advice that these measures should have first been subject to a Strategic Environment Assessment; they should only last for a limited time and be subject to independent scrutiny. You can find more in our consultation response here
Magic bullet or political suicide?
(1 Feb 2013): This is the question posed in HS2AA's latest advert
which was published in this week's New Statesman.
Phase 2 of the Y announced
(28 January 2013): Government announce the second phase of the HS2 route to Leeds and Manchester. They released detailed maps
of their proposed route, and pronounce it will bring growth and benefits to us all. Hilary Wharf, Director HS2AA said “The justification for HS2 is pure political spin – the facts simply don’t support it. It doesn’t matter if you are in the north or the south it’s a bad deal for Britain from every perspective. Phase 2 means thousands more people will now be looking at the real facts about this £33bn waste of money”.
You can read our press release here
A wake-up call for DfT
(22 January 2013): 34 leading transport economists have sent an open letter to the Secretary of State
which is commented on in today's Financial Times. It makes abundantly clear what HS2AA have been saying for the last 2 years ie that DfT have failed to notice that demand for domestic transport has tailed off and the evidence that infrastructure schemes deliver growth and jobs is no longer there. Hilary Wharf said “We welcome this input by the leading transport economists in the country. Their message has a clear implication for High Speed 2 – it is a railway to meet growth that isn’t happening, to create jobs that simply won’t exist. It’s clearly time to cancel HS2 and concentrate on real problems that need real solutions – not continue to waste money on a vanity project that has a wish list instead of a business case”
. Read our press release here.
Camden compensation workshop
(17 Jan 2013): A packed audience in the Town Hall including Stanley Johnson, Boris’s dad, learnt more about Government's compensation proposals for Camden. Hilary Wharf of HS2AA ran the workshop that was chaired by Peter Cummings. The presentation that may help others too is here
. Hilary said “ It was great to have so many interested parties attending and to be able to share ideas. The proposals on compensation are plainly completely inadequate, inequitable and compensate a tiny proportion of those affected. It’s not just people’s homes that are affected but businesses that simply can’t afford years of construction blight.”
HS2AA meeting with National Audit Office
(14 Jan 2013). HS2AA met with National Audit Office who are looking at the business case for HS2. HS2AA updated their summary of the flaws in the business case
. They find 29 key areas where the DfT approach is not robust. You can read the headlines here
. HS2AA presented new material on the landscape costs
and value of time calculations that had been sent to DfT
, and a new analysis of the demand modeling (by Bluespace Thinking)
that exposes a bias in the results that exaggerates the specific HS2 travel flows.
Compensation – another shot across the bows (4 Jan 2013)
: HS2AA have written
to the Secretary of State to point out that continued refusal to provide information that they hold about the degree and extent of blight caused by HS2 may render the current consultation on compensation unfair. An FOI response
in December admitted they had relevant information but its release was refused on grounds it might distort the property market and could not then be used to make future government policy eg for Phase 2 . Information on blight was also refused in a response to David Lidington
who had asked for iso-loss contour data to show the extent of blight from HS2.
Hilary Wharf said “To consult on proposals but refuse to give key available facts on the degree of blight demonstrates how contemptuous the Government really is of public involvement”
Unexpected revelations from the Government in the High Court – as HS2AA case continues (13 December 2012)
The final day of a 9 day legal marathon of judicial reviews relating to HS2 concluded with the Government’s response to HS2AA’s case concerning the proposed compensation arrangements for households affected by blight.The Government’s defence included some surprising assertions from counsel for the Secretary of State for Transport, Tim Mould QC including:
- The Government now viewed the promises made by Philip Hammond, the previous Secretary of State for Transport, that people affected by HS2 would receive fair compensation, as not actually meaning fair from the householders' perspective.
- A clarification that the full cost of property blight was not included in the business case prepared by the Department for Transport (DfT) in support of HS2, but only included the Government’s compensation scheme element, and not the uncompensated loss borne by individuals.
- On the issue of lost consultation responses, the Department for Transport were unable to say when, if ever, the company responsible for analysing consultation responses (Dialogue by Design) had taken account of HS2AA’s full submission. The judge ordered that the DfT clarify this issue for the court by next week.
- They no longer relied upon a 6-page summary that had been ascribed to HS2AA in the consultation (that was in fact a briefing document), but a separate analysis of key stakeholder responses conducted by their own officials, that used HS2AA’s full response.
- On the issue of rejecting the Property Bond, they firstly admitted to problems with their justification that it had received low support overall; and secondly that input to the ‘costs and risks’ reasons bizarrely was said to come from HS2AA itself.
It was an interesting day.
HS2AA at high court at 12.00 on 12/12/12
At this once in a century moment HS2AA began their second judicial review. It concerns compensation for people affected by property blight for the HS2 route. The case is about
- The legality of the decision in January 2011 to proceed with a refreshed hardship-based compensation scheme
- The lack of fairness in the 2011 consultation process
David Wolfe, QC for HS2AA, argued
- The public had insufficient information to adequately respond to the 2011 consultation, which had asked about 3 options for a new scheme. Inevitably as with any scheme ‘the devil was in the detail’ and the detail was missing
- The 2-staged consultation process was not conducted fairly, given the paucity of information provided at this first stage
- The scheme decided on relied upon new matters (eg on cost and risk), that were barely mentioned in the consultation materials
- The scheme selected also did not meet the promises made by the Secretary of State in December 2010 (to compensate individuals who would suffer significant losses)
- The 34 page HS2AA response was not only lost, but a 6 page briefing note that was not HS2AA’s actual response was incorrectly attributed to HS2AA.
The case continues on Thursday
HS2AA's second High Court case begins on 12th December 2012
. HS2AA's second judicial review concerns compensation for those living near the line. The case centres on the lack of information provided by Government to help people reply properly to the 2011 compensation consultation. Yet again only today HS2AA were again refused vital information from DfT on the extent of property blight. Hilary Wharf, director HS2AA said:"HS2AA's research shows just a tiny minority of those affected by blight are going to be compensated under the Government's proposed compensation deal. This is unfair and pushes the financial burden of property blight onto ordinary people".
Read more here
Subject: High Court case – day 3 update
David Elvin QC began making HS2AA's case yesterday afternoon (after lawyers for the 51M group of local authorities had completed their submissions) and continued for most of today, 5th December.
HS2AA's submissions to the Court contended that the Secretary of State for Transport had acted unlawfully in not complying with important legal requirements designed to protect the environment, in particular by failing to properly assess environmental impacts of HS2 and consult on them.
In particular it was contended Government had:
- failed to comply with the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Regulations. This was justified by arguments that the national high speed rail plan falls under the SEA regulations because it qualifies as a "plan or program" and meets the other key requirement as a result of the approach taken in the 2010 White Paper. The SEA regulations require that alternatives to the HS2 proposals be considered, environmentally assessed and consulted upon
- ignored its obligations under the Habitats Directive to undertake a required screening exercise to assess impacts on protected species and habitats
- not complied with the provisions of the Aarhus Convention for it's decisions in this area
- made significant changes to the route after the 2011 consultation but then failed, as required by the SEA, to provide alternatives and re-consult on these changes
The case also emphasised that using the Hybrid bill process – which is currently how Government plan to progress authorisation for HS2 – would mean that the requirements of the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive would not be followed.
The case continues
HS2AA take their case to the high court (4 Dec 2012): Yesterday in court the Government abandoned attempts to suppress West Coast Main Line passenger usage data. It's now official that the trains are half empty in the peak. This gives the lie to Government claims that these services are currently crowded and there is an imminent capacity crisis. It also confirms the conclusions of HS2AA's own survey undertaken last year when the Government refused to release this vital data.This news came as lawyers acting for the local authorities opposed to HS2 started their case that the consultation undertaken in 2011 was unfair and unlawful. Read 51m's press release about day 1 here (left hand column, "Legal challenges to HS2 - 3 December report").
Today lawyers acting for HS2AA will open our case in the High Court. they will argue that important environmental legislation has not been followed by the Government when it decided to proceed with HS2. Thanks to all our supporters who made this possible.
There has been wide media interest you can find links to some of the online coverage here
and some of the broadcast coverage can be found here.
Judicial Reviews Against HS2 Start Monday 3rd December
. Two judicial reviews against HS2 (the planned high speed link between London and Birmingham) being brought by HS2 Action Alliance (HS2AA) start on Tuesday, 4th December 2012 in the High Court with His Honour Mr Justice Ouseley presiding. Rulings are expected in January 2013. Read our press release here.
HS2AA challenge latest compensation proposals:
HS2AA do not believe we have the right information on blight that enables us to properly respond to the new consultation. We are asking amongst other things for isoloss contours, that can inform us about the extent of property blight. We have written to the Secretary of State
for this information. We also have concerns about interpretations of the existing guidelines, that will also affect the next scheme and have written to Alison Munro
about them. HS2AA has also reviewed the current compensation proposals and its current views can be seen here
Expert analysis of fatal flaws in HS2 business case:
Chris Stokes, former Executive Director for the Strategic Rail Authority, provides a devastating and highly detailed analysis of the fatal flaws in the HS2 business case and the DfT's responses to his expert criticisms. Read his speech to the Railway Study Association here
, thanks to the highly respected rail journal, Modern Railways,
have kindly given us permission to reproduce it on our website.
Public rejects High Speed Rail Line in new Ipsos Mori poll
. In a new poll carried out by Ipsos MORI just 4% of the public said that building a new high speed rail line was the best infrastructure project to boost the UK economy. More than 3 times as many (14%) said improving the existing railways was best, and building more homes topped the poll at 40%. Commenting on these results, Hilary Wharf, Director HS2AA said "We look forward to the Government catching up with public opinion and shutting down this white elephant of a project and starting to address the capacity issues and economic regeneration with already identified cheaper and more effective approaches” .
Take a look at our press release
that shows the full results and see our latest advert
that spreads the message.
Commenting on David Cameron's speech to the CBI today (19 Nov 2012) suggesting the need for fewer Judicial Reviews, Hilary said ‘Surely the Government are not suggesting they should be above the law? It was the threat of a judicial review that forced the Department for Transport to admit to “ fundamental flaws” in the West Coast mainline franchising process. It’s that same Department that is responsible for HS2”
DfT’s ‘generous’ compensation scheme for HS2 traps 1000s in unsaleable homes -
The Department for Transport has announced
a consultation on a compensation scheme
for home owners and businesses impacted by the planned HS2 London to Birmingham train line. The consultation
is open from today, 25 October 2012, until 31st January 2013. Commenting on the package, Hilary Wharf, Director, HS2 Action Alliance said; “What’s on offer is derisory. It’s cynical and dishonest and gives the lie to repeated Government promises that this would be the most generous compensation scheme ever. They themselves say it’s comparable to HS1’s arrangements – regarded as unacceptable 20 years ago.” “For those affected by blight (beyond 120m from the line) it effectively just continues the existing hardship scheme, under which just 60 households have qualified in the last two years.” “If the Government can’t afford fair compensation - it can’t afford HS2.”
Read our full press release here.
This banner shows what some of those affected by HS2 think about the latest proposals.
National Audit Office Inquiry
HS2AA have alerted the NAO to major flaws in DfT’s case for HS2. Notwithstanding DfT’s claims that their position is based on the ‘best available evidence’, our letter
demonstrates that this is far from the truth, providing a catalogue of issues. We have also updated our summary
of why we find the case to be flawed and not in the national interest.
HS2 Action Alliance renews its call today (10th October 2012) for an independent review of the Government's HS2 proposals in the light of the recent WCML debacle - With the Prime Minister telling the country we have the choice to 'sink or swim', we are concerned that the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin has not read the PM's script and is "cracking on" with spending taxpayers' money on a £33 billion rail line projected to bring an absurdly low return for money spent. The business case for HS2 has numerous flaws which have been identified by the Public Accounts Committee and the Major Projects Authority.
The claims made that HS2 will be "the silver bullet" to solve the North/South divide, like the business case, do not stack up - 73% of the jobs created by Phase 1 of the line to the West Midlands will be in London.
In the absence of a Government commitment to an independent review of the project, HS2 Action Alliance and others will be pressing ahead with the judicial reviews of HS2 that are being heard in December. We hope that this will provide the start of the independent scrutiny that the Government has so far failed to deliver.
HS2AA update from the Conservative party conference
- Lots of support, with most people visiting our stand against HS2, also good attendance at our fringe event "Time to Think Again". Read about both here.
HS2AA Response To Patrick McLoughlin Speech at Conservative Conference.
Commenting on Patrick McLoughlin’s speech at the Conservative Conference today (8 Oct 2012), Thomas Crane, Director, HS2 Action Alliance said;
“Of course, we are disappointed that Patrick McLoughlin is unwilling to review the fatal flaws in the HS2 business case, the irreparable damage the line will do to the environment and wants to plough on regardless. We would have thought that a project with a cost of £33 billion to tax payers would have at least warranted a proper review when the DfT is so clearly unfit for purpose following the WCML franchise fiasco."
“Our Conference event – Time to think Again - this morning was well attended, including Martin Tett, leader of Buckinghamshire County Council, Daniel Hannon, MEP and Allister Heath, Editor City AM. We are finding more and more support from those who have reviewed the details of the HS2 business case and will continue to push for a fundamental review of the business case alongside the five judicial reviews that are being heard in December” he added.
Ex cabinet minister calls for Root and Branch review of the business case HS2
- Read Cheryl Gillan's press release here
HS2AA release new advert
- Following on from the news of the failure of the WCML franchise tender process, our new advertisement (breaking in this week's New Statesman magazine) takes a look forward to the news headlines we expect to see after the judicial reviews of HS2 (click the picture to see the full size advert). Read what the Taxpayers Alliance say about this fiasco by the DfT here
and 51m's reaction here
HS2 A Bad Deal for Britain
- that's the message we are making clear to attendees at the Party conferences this year. Read how it went at the Lim Dems conference here
Freedom of Information Request Uncovers HS2 Plans To Cut Classic Train Services To Save £7.7 Billion.
Many English towns and cities will see their train services cut if High Speed Two (HS2) is built according to an HS2 Ltd report uncovered through an FOI request. The report provides details of cuts to classic train services that are needed to deliver £7.7 billion in savings which make up a critical part of HS2’s already flimsy business case. Hilary Wharf, director, HS2AA, said; “We’ve always known that many of the assumptions that HS2 business case relied on were wildly optimistic. But this analysis goes a step further. By relying on huge cost savings created by reducing existing train services HS2 Ltd shows scant regard for the needs of the vast number of train passengers who will not be able to use or afford tickets for this outrageously expensive white elephant.”
Read our press release here
HS2AA responds to HS2 North West Paper on 51M alternative,
see our press release here
HS2AA update from libdem conference.
Plenty of interest. Take a look at our stand and what's been happening
so far (Sunday). More days to go to get our message across.
HS2AA rebut William Barters analysis of 51m's alternative to HS2
, see our press release here
Advertising Standards decision on our maps advert:
19th Sept. 2012 – The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has today published its findings over a complaint against HS2AA’s maps advertisement. The ASA found for HS2AA on three issues and against it on three. HS2AA have in any event updated the maps
for the latest business case and have included the small changes that we believe address their issues. See our press release
on the ASA decision.
DfT discover more consultation responses lost
: how much worse can it get? DfT announce
they have discovered they have lost more responses that they thought. Just another 722 answers (on top of the 400 responses they admitted to in July). And again DfT say the lost answers made no new points. As we said in July ‘how can their process conceivably meet the standards set for a public consultation?’
Hilary wharf, Director HS2AA added today “Let’s not forget the vast majority of responses were against, our views were ignored, and this is further evidence that the analysis of the consultation was a shambles”.
The opportunity to think again.
Latest update of why HS2 is not in the national interest
and our blow by blow account of the flaws in the business case has been sent to the new Secretary of State in a letter
explaining why we think it’s not value for money. This now includes the latest attempts by DfT to get the answers they want by still using the outdated forecast model contrary even to their own guidance updates, devaluing the countryside in their assessment, and still ignoring fundamental issues on pricing, how people use their time on trains, and the alternatives. Hilary Wharf said ‘We hope Patrick Mcloughlin will take a fresh look at just what his department is signing up to. You can’t keep ignoring the inconvenient truth or it has a habit of catching up - whether in the ballot box, the courts or the media. This is the opportunity to think again.’
New adverts for the Party Conferences:
See our new advert
that focuses on the problems with HS2. It’s time politicians listen to what people are saying. And we have also had Justine drop a line to Patrick on the key points……..Take a look
[link to conservativehome - advert will be superseded after conference].
The National Audit Office is investigating HS2 It will focus on phase 1 of the project, between London and Birmingham and look at whether the business case for High Speed 2 and early project set-up accord with good practice. More details are available here.
DfT’s new business case for HS2 hides more than it reveals
- DfT announce a new business case for HS2 that includes the Y route, but does not release it and hides the 'real' figures. Hilary Wharf, Director HS2AA said “This new business case simply ignores the inconvenient truths. They have cherry picked and included some improvements while simply airbrushing out the fundamental defects that have been identified."
Read our full press release here
Taking Secretary of State to task
: HS2AA have written to Justine Greening
about the changes to the HS2 business case that are now overdue. Hilary Wharf, said ”The business case for HS2 can’t just stand still. It has to take on board the impact of the recently announced rail investment programme, new economic forecasts, omissions from the last version, Public Accounts Committee recommendations, as well as explain how the capacity crunch on the WCML can apparently now be resolved for the next 14yrs by First Group with just the already committed 11 car extensions to the Pendolino’s on the WCML.”
Case for HS2 based on capacity collapses.
Hilary Wharf, Director HS2AA, said “the announcement that First Group win the next WCML franchise completely undermines DfT’s case for HS2, which they have increasingly argued is for capacity reasons. First Group not only emphasise in their statement
the unique nature of the West Coast Mainline in having ‘ a considerable amount of unused capacity’, but DfT seem quite content to accept a bid that creates no additional long distance capacity on the southern part of the mainline, beyond the extra Pendolino carriages already being introduced. So apparently DfT have now decided WCML does not have a capacity crisis, or that it will be full in the next decade.”
Legal challenge to HS2 clears first hurdle.
The Court today (26 July 2012) set the timetable on the case against High Speed 2 (HS2). The judge agreed that the five cases against HS2 will all be heard and sets the date for the hearings; he caps the opposition’s costs and he opens the door to further amendments to the claims. Hilary Wharf, Director HS2AA said "We are very pleased with today’s decision. Not only does the Judge agree our cases should be, and will be heard, but the Secretary of State has been forced to account for her actions in seemingly ignoring many consultation responses."
Read our press release here
HS2 Ltd forced to admit defects in their consultation.
HS2AA along with 412 others have learnt from HS2 Ltd that their detailed 150 page response to the 2011 consultation got lost due to ‘processing errors’. Despite this HS2 Ltd say none of the omitted responses introduced any new matters hence their consultation summary and HS2 decision still stand. For HS2AA this is unbelievably the second successive time it’s happened. It has also affected other organisations who happen to be pursuing legal challenges against the Government’s decision on HS2. Hilary Wharf, Director HS2AA said “Natural justice demands Government now does one of two things - abandon HS2 as it lacks proper justification or re-run the full consultation with all the facts on the table, including the awkward ones they tried to hide.”
Our press release
gives more information on this news
Rail investment plans do little for overcrowding.
Neither the latest rail investment plans, nor HS2, will do much to alleviate overcrowding, as analysis by BlueSpace Thinking Ltd
shows. Using the latest figures released by ORR on overcrowding, they show the top 53 priorities for investment by destination and train operator. HS2 comes in near the bottom of the table (at 39th/40th and 49/50th) and the new 5-year plans are also well down the table (at 17th, 30th, 35th and 42nd/43rd and 51st).
£9bn rail investment plans:
Government announce their 5 year rail investment plans for 2014-2019 today(16 July 2012). £4bn goes on schemes that have been strongly lobbied for in recent years, including the Northern Hub, the electrification of Midland Mainline, and other electrification plans for Great Western and Cardiff valleys. Hilary Wharf, Director, HS2AA said 'We welcome these sensible incremental improvements to the existing network but the sting in the tail means it further worsens the already dire economic case for High Speed 2'
. Read our press release here
Consultation is now after the summer break.
So its official that ‘Spring’ has become ‘Autumn’. DfT announce
that the Safeguarding and Compensation consultations will be after they return from summer recess in September. They also say that their preferred Y route will be announced in the Autumn.
Debate in House of Lords on the business case
Following the Public Accounts Committee's call for a re-work of the business case for HS2, David Cameron's Step-father-in-Law, Viscount Astor, led debate last night
(11 July 2012)
in the Lords specifically on the business case. Despite the clear focus of the debate the Government had no answers on the business case, or the fact its assumptions have been discredited eg valuing journey time savings assuming the time on trains is spent wholly unproductively. The response for Government simply played the same record that the economic case was but one of the factors behind the decision. Hilary Wharf, Director, HS2 Action Alliance, who attended the debate
commented “ The case for HS2 is bankrupt. The fact that the business case is visibly crumbling is more evident each day, and it is time for the Government to accept there are better alternatives eg sweating our existing assets – enabling us to deliver more benefits to more people and more quickly. The Government defended their business case last night by ignoring the core criticisms that were well made by many Lords in the debate”.
New Public Accounts Committee report tells Government to re-do its case for HS2.
The Public accounts Committee releases its report on HS1
and tells the DfT to revisit its assumptions on HS2 business case and develop a full understanding of the benefits and costs of high-speed travel compared to the alternatives. It challenges assumptions on forecasting, pricing, how it values time savings, and its lack of evaluating alternative options. This confirms what we have been saying about the business case for over two years now. You can read our press release here
and we have updated our review of the business case here
Next instalment in the Spectator story
: HS2AA highlight in their latest advert
in the Spectator the next instalment in the downfall of HS2. Two key DfT reports have now come to light that show DfT had been told in 2009 that their ‘value of time savings’ figures were “unsupportable”. But DfT hid the reports from everyone until after the decision in 2012. This factor alone now takes their business case below 1 (a BCR from 1.2 to 0.9 for phase 1). See our press release
for more details, and an update of our fuller analysis
of the business case that now shows the real BCR to be between 10p and 20p for every £1 spent.
Spectator ‘HS2 U-turn’ story
: Spectator front cover (16 June 2012) depicts an HS2 U-turn and Ross explains why
in their latest issue.
Consultation on compensation delayed – again.
HS2 ltd now confirm the consultation is delayed and it won’t be in Spring. Even they realised it was getting ridiculous. No new date is set. We hope this means they realise that a hardship based scheme just for a minority of those affected by blight is unfair and wholly unacceptable. We are urgently reminding them of the value of the Property bond solution that can be costless if HS2 were to be cancelled. Read our latest proposals here for fightingtheblight
. We have also written to MPs urging them to use this new window of opportunity.
APPG for HSR – they would say that wouldn’t they? The All Parliamentary Party Group for High Speed Rail releases a report that says HS2 should go ahead! Hilary Wharf, Director HS2AA says ”This is absolutely no surprise. After all they would say that wouldn’t they?” “The APPG Report isn’t remotely an independent, objective review, its simply the Parliamentary Lobby Group for HS2. Lucy James the APPG Secretariat is the Campaign Director for HSR (‘Yes to High Speed Rail’). “There has been a lot of discussion about capacity. But studies show that currently the WCML is on average just 56% full in the peak, and that’s before the extra carriages are delivered. If the DfT have other figures they should stop refusing to release them under FOIs” “We are clear that the 51m alternative will deliver the capacity to fully meet even DfT’s own demand forcasts (peak and off peak) at one tenth the cost, is more than 3 times better value for money and it can be done three times sooner. So everyone’s a winner”
HS2AA launch new advertising campaign today (11 May 2012).
As you can see below our advertisment addresses the 'law of dimishing returns' in relation to HS2 and its claimed economic and welfare benefits. Read the full press release here
, click on the advert to down load a full size copy and read our latest business case review here
Compensation consultation expected this week, now elections over
After a successful and well attended briefing in April to the MPs Compensation Forum (as reported here
by Andrea Leadsom MP) at which we gave this presentation
, HS2AA issue a Parliamentary briefing note to all Phase 1 and prospective Y MPs. A new summary of the key arguments to get a better deal on compensation, in preparation for the imminent consultation, is available here
Problems with High Speed Rail in Other Countries
Read the latest summary here
; it has been updated to include Argentina and Morocco and additional information on Spain and the USA.
DfT reduced to making bogus comparisons rather than being up front about the latest figures.
Latest DfT figures on value for money of HS2 show it’s now worse than even they previously said. Their Benefit to Cost ratio (BCR) is just 1.2 for Phase 1, however this still overestimates demand and the BCR is really 0.8, that is only 80p return for every £1 spent! When will the treasury insist that HS2 ltd are just throwing good money after bad and call a halt to this huge waste of money? Read our press release here
. Our latest Business Case review is available here
HS2 - A Nationwide Issue
News that HS2AA is proceeding with judicial reviews on HS2 was reported widely yesterday (3 April) by the BBC, ITV, national dailies and local press from Belfast to Littlehampton, Yorkshire to Bognor, Wales to Kent. Evidence that HS2 really is a nationwide issue whatever government say. Read the original press release here
. See the BBC Oxford News report here
Government to be taken to court over HS2
In the last 2 months thousands of people in communities from London to Staffordshire, frustated that the government are not listening nor following the proper processes, have donated enough funds for two judical reviews to proceed, one about environment issues and the other fighting for fair compensation. Read HS2AA's press release here
Environmental groups challenge EU over HS2. HS2AA fully support the letter of complaint to the EU commission over the UK’s decision on High Speed Rail, that the wildlife trust ( BBOWT) are sending today. For press release from Berks, Bucks, and Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) see here
. Hilary Wharf, Director of HS2AA says “The UK has a bad record in applying EU environmental legislation – and if the UK courts are not going to remedy this for High Speed 2 then we are confident that the EU Commission will”.
Greening feature article contains shocking revelations on HS2……
Interspersed in Justine Greening’s latest interview is HS2AA’s message on the damming impact of HS2 compared to the widespread benefits of the alternative. Our adverts lie at the heart of her interview – literally – covering 2 of the 8-page feature. See the full interview here
Justine Greening says of HS2 that she had to put “a lot of mental and emotional effort into it to make sure I got it right” and “she looked really robustly at all the alternatives”.
We think that these two maps neatly expose that she did not get it right : Note: revised version of maps shown
What’s more they are based on her department’s own material, and the assumptions are recorded here.
Problems with High Speed Rail in Other Countries.
Read the latest summary, updated with revisions for the Netherlands, Portugal and China, here
Ensuring the environment and community aspects remain a priority.
HS2 Ltd must work closely with local authorities, communities and stakeholders to develop the design of HS2 in a way which minimises potential impacts and identifies opportunities for community benefit. Read who they will consult and on what aspects here
Embarrassed DfT create spurious statistics to cover up their poor business case.
DfT responded to HS2AA’s 13 February letter about legal action by quoting figures to suggest HS2 delivers £4 of benefit for every additional £1 spent. This was misleading as it's at least three times better than the real facts that DfT themselves published in January 2012 when they took their decision to proceed with HS2, and it's still worse than the prudent and much better alternative of uprating WCML, that delivers more than £5 benefit. Read more here
HS2AA launches its legal challenge to HS2
. Today (13 Feb) HS2AA serves a formal letter on Justine Greening, Secretary of State for Transport, asking her to abandon her decision to proceed with HS2. The letter also gives her notice that HS2AA may challenge her decision through judicial review. Read more here
. Last week 51m anounced a similar intention
51m launch their legal challenge.
Members of 51m, the alliance of local authorities opposed to HS2, have served a formal letter on the Secretary of State for Transport asking her to rescind her decision to proceed with HS2 and giving notice that they may otherwise challenge the decision by way of judicial review. Read full story here
The review of the January 2012 business case shows its gone from bad to worse.
Momentum against HS2 is building and the new business case is even worse than before, with a benefits cost ratio under 50p for every £1 invested when up-to-date information and assumptions are used. Its only a matter of time before Government comes to its senses and invests in our real rail needs, creates jobs and growth, and abandons this project. Read our latest summary
or full 6 page review
of the business case.
The decision on compensation ignores the fact what 98% of people said about the options.
Read our latest info on compensation here