The sorry saga around the HS2 go-ahead announcement continues, with the BBC now claiming the Government will make the call tomorrow (Thursday). This rather contradicts the majority view from various informed sources that the announcement won’t be made until AFTER the UK formally leaves the EU, which is 11pm this Friday. The latest informed source I’ve spoken to reckons that the announcement will either be made Tuesday or Thursday next week, or at the end of February, due to the Parliamentary timetable. Personally, I suspect the latter date will be sailing close to the wind as March is the month construction needs to start without penalty payments bumping up the construction price – as confirmed in the latest NAO report into HS2.
Whatever the truth of the matter it’s clear that the announcement is imminent. Not a single source I’ve talked to considers there’s any real chance the project will be cancelled. Politically and economically, cancellation is a non-starter. The sooner this decision is taken the better.
Meanwhile, the froth around HS2 continues in the media, with column inch after column inch of speculation, spin and outright fiction. It’s certainly keeping the pundits busy anyway!
But what of the StopHs2 campaign? It goes from farce to worse. Poor Joe Rukin has made a fool of himself yet again in this overwrought post on the Stop Hs2 Facebook page. A wildlife expert he clearly isn’t. Look at the reply to his Badger sett claim!
Meanwhile, the Harvil Rd protest appears to have collapsed. In contrast to the previous barrage of tedious Facebook posts and self-indulgent videos on the Colne Valley Facebook page there’s been nothing for days. No-one seems to be doing anything that even merits a boring video, much less actually stopping any work on the ground – and this is their oldest and biggest protest camp! Instead, we’ve been treated to more over-long and tedious ‘livestream’ videos from the latest ‘camp’ which is on Welsh Road just outside Offchurch, Warwickshire. Here’s a link.
What it shows is a handful of mostly middle-class protesters completely failing to stop the cutting down of trees and hedgerows alongside a road. It’s all a bit of an expensive pantomime as contractors erect Heras fencing to protect protesters from themselves as they stupidly (and pointlessly) try and place themselves in harms way and then film it – as if it’s HS2’s fault they’re daft enough to get where they are! The contractors and police display the patience of saints as the protesters wind themselves up, spouting more and more nonsense about the project, the law – and the countryside. And what have they stopped? Nothing.
The irony is the guy who’s filming this and who constantly boasts about all the ‘hearts’ being posted on his feed are worse than useless. It’s nothing more than voyeurism. Those armchair warriors won’t do anything other than massage a few protesters egos by telling them how they’re ‘with them in spirit’ and other suchlike tosh. It’s about as useful as sending “thoughts and prayers” but this is the nature of protest in the smartphone age it seems! The protesters video drags on interminably, with the same ridiculous statements including all the old favourites about “HS2 only saves 20 mins”, “no-one will use it”, “it’ll be obsolete in 10yrs” – wibble, froth wibble. After a while, the police beef up their presence at the site (adding yet more expense) whilst the protesters try to argue everything that’s being done is ‘illegal’. It’s like arguing about angels on heads of pins. Opinions don’t trump legality so the protesters are on to a loser from the very start. What’s actually depressing is just how ignorant and misinformed they are, but then the likes of StopHs2’s Joe Rukin has been filling people’s heads with nonsense for years…
Eventually, after 2 hours filming, the video ends and we’re saved from more middle-class angst, pointless arguments and misinformation.
Did it stop the tree felling and hedgerow clearance? Did it heck as like! The protesters own video admits they’ve failed to stop 3/4 mile of tree felling and hedgerow clearance! A tiny delay is not stopping anything. The irony, this pointless exercise will have cost a pretty penny in security and (probably) police overtime. Yet one of the things the protesters are complaining about is the cost of building HS2. The very costs they’re adding to with their futile protests. Here’s the later video which shows how the protesters wasted their time.
Away from pointless protests there’s been action on the political front which has ramifications for HS2. Today Transport Minister Grant Shapps announced that the Northern rail franchise is going to be taken back of Arriva and run by the DfT’s operator of last resort (OLR). Well, I say ‘action’ but this move had been widely trailed and has hardly come as a surprise. You can find a copy of Shapps Statement here.
The implications for HS2 comes in this, the admission that the issue is as much about infrastructure as anything else.
“The vast majority of Northern’s trains pass though Leeds or Manchester”? The two Northern cities that HS2 does so much to relieve rail capacity in! I’ve no doubt Northern leaders will be pointing this out to Shapps. With such an admission, does anyone seriously think the Minister is about to announce the cancellation of HS2 when doing so will just add to the problems?
We’ll soon find out…