die belebende Bedenkung

The vacuum and the incoherence

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The oddness of HS2 was explored by Tim Marshall, on The Conversation (21 November 2013).

[‘HS2: how do we resolve megaproject planning?’, Tim Marshall]

[…] In part this [oddness] is because the relevant National Networks [National Policy Statement], called National Networks, has never been completed, so all transport decision making takes place in a strategic vacuum. This is one very strong reason why the debate around HS2 has been so scrappy and inconsequential. There is no overall geographical or temporal shape to ideas about what Britain’s transport system should look like in 10, 20 or 50 years’ time. Instead the government has taken decisions individually -– a massive road investment programme here, a London airports review or a bit of high-speed rail there. Incoherence is built in: it is politically easier, albeit societally irresponsible and potentially a very expensive way to decide such big investments.

The other odd aspect around HS2 is that it will not be decided by the 2008 [Planning] Act at all, but by an HS2 Hybrid Bill in Parliament, as used for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (re-christened HS1) and Crossrail. For projects that have built a degree of consensus over many years this makes sense. But HS2, without cross-party support, risks being stranded in Parliament where opponents in both Houses will have the opportunity to obstruct the passage of the Bill, and therefore hold up the project.

Deploying a well-prepared NPS under the 2008 system would have been a more intelligent approach –- but the resulting discussion might have exposed the weaknesses in the arguments for HS2. The government may have feared that the opportunities for protesters even within the very carefully managed 2008 procedures could have derailed the scheme.


Written by beleben

November 21, 2013 at 10:22 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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