Regular readers will know I’ve become increasingly cynical about the UK ‘green’ movement. Mainly due to my support for building the High Speed 2 railway. This has brought me into contact with various charities, pressure groups and ‘celebrities’ in a way I’d never had before. Like many people, I simply assumed they were on the right side of things, knew what they were talking about and actually cared about Climate Change. Several years down the (metaphorical) line and my rose tinted glasses are well and truly consigned to the dustbin.
Over the years I’ve blogged about the fact free nonsense, scaremongering, hypocrisy (and downright lies) pushed by many conservation groups. Like the Woodland Trust (who’re still at it) or people like Chris Packham who really is beyond the pale (remember his ‘largest deforestation since WW1‘ claptrap?). Today I’ve found another in the Packham mould who I’d never heard of before. One Iolo Williams.
It seems Williams is another TV celebrity Conservationist. Well, in Wales at least – although he also works for the BBC and has appeared on ‘Springwatch’, so presumably knows Packham. What drew my attention was this fact-free load of nonsense on Twitter.
Ignoring the usual lazy canards about HS2 being a ‘Vanity project’ and only saving 20 mins we have a new one. According to Williams HS2 “destroys thousands of acres of prime wildlife habitat”. Really? Where? As usual, the truth is completely different. HS2 affects a tiny amount of ancient woodland (less than 1 ha on Phase 1) a large chunk of the line is in tunnels and the land it does traverse is mostly monocultural farmland – which is hardly renowned as “prime wildlife habitat” (as many environmentalists are at pains to point out)! In fact, some of the farmland that HS2 crosses and that’s being used in the construction phase will be repurposed afterwards and turned into genuine “prime wildlife habitat” like this example (link).
Let’s have a look at Williams other claims too shall we? Let’s start with the tired and trite canard about HS2 only ‘saving’ 20 mins. Apart from the blindingly obvious fact HS2 isn’t just an end to end railway with just two stations (but a network serving 31) so can’t just be a single time saving, let’s look at the real figures. Note: 20mins isn’t true on any of them…
Since HS2 was first mooted in 2009 we’ve had a Labour government, a Coalition government and now a Tory Majority government. We’ve had four Prime Ministers: Brown, Cameron, May and Johnson. We’ve had five Transport Ministers: Adonis, Greening, McLoughlin, Grayling and Shapps.
The HS2 phase 1 bill passed with the biggest majority of any Coalition legislation, both in the Commons and the Lords. It continues to enjoy massive cross-party support from all the major political parties. Hs2 is also supported by the elected regional mayors (both Labour and Tory), The Core Cities Group, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPS) transport bodies, business groups and individual companies. The list is huge.
So, exactly whose ‘Vanity project’ is HS2 meant to be?
Oh, there’s another thing. As I’d never heard of Williams I did a bit of research and found this on his website. Just like Packham, Williams advertises expensive trips to exotic locations where you can enjoy the pleasure of his company. For a price, of course. Williams is currently advertising 6 such trips in 2021-22. Destinations are Brazil, Costa Rica, Sri Lanka, the Antarctic, Cantabria and East Africa. These trip don’t come cheap either. Here’s an example.
Five grand each for a party of 10. Nice work if you can get it. But how far is it from London to Costa Rica by air? Here’s your answer…
Yes folks, that’s a round trip of almost 11,000 miles (not including any internal trips within Costa Rica itself). As old Cilla Black used to say – that’s a lorra, lorra Carbon Emissions – and that’s just one trip…
So, (just like his mate Packham) Williams is happy to see groups of wealthy people fly around the world as a business opportunity, but opposes building green land transport in the UK for everyone (rich or poor). Because without HS2 we simply won’t have the rail capacity for the future to get people & freight off roads and cut transport CO2 emissions to tackle GLOBAL ClimateChange. Stopping HS2 isn’t ‘green’, it’s exactly the opposite.
There seems to be a recurring pattern here. With these people it’s very much a case of ‘do as I say, not as I do’ plus a completely cavalier approach to facts and fact-finding. Scaremongering and exaggeration’s the order of the day and they seem to feel no obligation to report responsibly which is sad as we desperately need a Green movement that is worth its name. Sadly, these people aren’t it.
I’ve a favour to ask…
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Jason Lowe said:
I read this with interest and support, partly because I have become a member of the only party and pressure group that is making exactly this point. We need a mass re-education programme on this. I wrote an article on this last year to try to begin that process: https://voltuk.eu/why-we-all-need-hs2/
It would be great to join forces to see how we can amplify this message.
It beggars belief, “do as I say not as I do”. Let’s all go to Heathrow and fly halfway round the world to “save the planet”. As a Welsh environmentalist obviously a trip to Costa Rica is the natural choice…….