This morning the BBC has reported that Hs2 Ltd have spent £600m buying up properties on the route of the new railway. As is usual with a lot of BBC reporting nowadays, their superficial reporting only tells half the story. Here’s a link to the piece by the BBC’s Dan Rhodes, which has the headline “More than 900 properties worth nearly £600m have been bought by the company responsible for delivering High Speed Rail 2 (HS2), figures show.”
The piece contains all the usual predictable stuff, an interview with someone who claims “we was robbed” because their home was allegedly undervalued and a few comments from those opposed to Hs2 to satisfy the BBC’s unhealthy obsession with ‘balance’. But Rhodes fails to mention several things. One is that this process has been going on since 2011 (although that’s obvious from the chart he uses) and in that time Hs2 has actually made tens of millions for the taxpayer by renting out the properties it’s bought – as the Times reported way back in December 2016.
Imagine what that figure must be now, several years on!
Another thing that Rhodes fails to mention is that many of the homes purchased aren’t scheduled for demolition, they will be resold at a later date – at a profit, to people who really aren’t bothered about living near a railway, just like all those people who buy new homes on old railway goods yards right next to railway stations!
The other thing that has escaped Rhodes attention is there’s another story here. That of a dying anti Hs2 campaign. Let’s look at the chart.
The anti Hs2 campaign has always been strongest in the Chilterns and one or two other locations on the phase 1 route. Essentially, it’s always been a Nimby based protest (with a few political types trying to exploit the issue for their own ends). But those Nimbys have been bought out in their hundreds – and not just on phase 1. By buying them out, Hs2 has poured weedkiller on the grassroots of the campaign which is running out of people and money. As a consequence, many local Stophs2 ‘action’ groups have shut up shop. This is reflected on their social media presence as people stop Tweeting or posting on Facebook as Hs2’s no longer their concern. As each month passes, more are bought out and move on and the lifeblood of the campaign drains away, never to return…
Forget the bluster of the few remaining activists who claim opposition to Hs2 is ‘growing’, the real numbers tell a very different story!