Soapbox Steve Hassall: Old parties put HS2 'vanity project' before green spaces
THERE was a time when the Lib Dems, and to some extent the Conservatives, were seen as parties to protect green spaces by standing up for residents who objected to inappropriate building on green belt. No longer.
The Government's intention to plough on with HS2 (high speed rail) shows little regard for residents and protection of our countryside. With what will be little more than a scar ripping through the landscape, how can these parties purport to be defenders of the environment? Even the local Labour-run city council is falling over itself to capitalise by attempting to bring the line into the heart of our city rather than having a station out at Toton, proving that all the old parties neither know nor care what you want or think.
All we are being sold are the so-called benefits of HS2, like reduced travel time to the capital and better job prospects. Little is said about the real cost – and I am not referring to the £34 billion price tag (equal to £1,000 per household).
I refer to the human cost and the impact on our countryside. While a 30-minute saving on the travelling time to London maybe of use to some, to most of us I'm sure we couldn't care less and don't wish for the many to foot the bill for the few.
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A crucially overlooked aspect of this vanity project is that while it may bring London 'closer' for us to go to work in, it will bring the rest of the country closer to London. Those already working and living in the capital can look for cheaper homes along the HS2 route to lower their living costs. This could turn Derby and other cities into nothing more than commuter towns feeding the capital, causing higher house prices for locals.
There are the detrimental effects to those living near to the route, like decreased property value and noise and disruption. Imagine being one of the unfortunate residents who will have their houses demolished or where it will destroy communities. These are real families and in some cases the land is protected conservation areas. In Derby, historic and important buildings are at risk. The price, both monetary and human, is far too high, far outweighing any benefits that may or may not materialise.
So when a leaflet drops on your mat from a political party claiming to be standing up for "your green spaces", ask if they can be relied upon to put people before politics.