The Greens support rail travel in principle because it should improve Britain’s transport system, reduce road and air traffic and help cut carbon emissions.
HS2, however, does too much damage to local communities and to the environment and it is too pricey. To achieve high speeds the trains are expected to use up to 50% more fuel than Eurostar so carbon emissions will not be reduced.
The enormous sums involved (estimated 100 billion and rising) could be better spent improving transport for everybody, not just the wealthy business people who will be able to afford to use HS2.
HS2 is not a green solution. That money needs to be spent instead on increasing rail capacity by adding more track to existing routes and by upgrading freight-only routes for passenger use too.
At the same time, we need wider-ranging policies designed to reduce the need for long-distance travel, while integrating local public transport systems (for example, as has actually happened to good effect in London over the last 15 years) and continuing to make streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians.
John Bowman and Andy Blakie of Hillingdon Green Party attending the 'Vote No Heathrow' rally in Parliament Square
Mark Keir, HGP co-ordinator, said:
“It is of course with utter dismay that we see once again that the government, indeed Parliament, sees fit to destroy our communities, our cherished homes, our schools and our environment with the go-ahead for Heathrow expansion. Our children and grandchildren will suffer the awful legacy of this act through the ever-worsening air quality that already blights so many lives. Surely this act of wanton destruction and disregard for human life alongside the carnage being meted out by HS2 in our Borough, must be seen as criminal, and totally refutes any claims of adhering to the Paris agreement. However, this decision will serve to galvanise our campaign to stop Heathrow Expansion, we are not yet done. Let battle commence!”
John Bowman, Hillingdon Green Party Planning Officer, said:
“…..one of the biggest problems is that their figures regarding road traffic in and around Heathrow just don’t stack up. Not only are their figures pie in the sky, they come nowhere near meeting air quality requirements. The air quality around Heathrow and indeed much of Hillingdon is already way over permissible toxin and particulate levels. This cannot possibly be allowed to pass the planning process by Hillingdon Borough.”
The National Policy Statement states that the number of trips by Public Transport should be 50% by 2030 and 55% by 2040. Notwithstanding that even if this target was met, based on predicted passenger numbers it would still result in a significant increase in motorised traffic adding to the already polluted and congested streets around Heathrow, yet Heathrow's own Sustainable Transport Plan states the mode share is currently 40% and has been for the past 10 years. We beleive therefore that it should be a condition that before construction work can commence, the public transport mode share would need to be 55% in order to demonstrate that Heathrow has the willpower to meet the targets once the airport is expanded. There were a number of planning conditions that were imposed on Terminal 5 such as reduced staff parking and extending Heathrow Express and and the Piccadilly line to terminal 5 and, interestingly a new rail link to St Pancras (probably via the Acton curve) which has never been done and not even Crossrail will do this. At present therefore the sustainable transport plan is more of PR document which doesn't hold any particular weight.
Carbon dioxide from aircraft and motor transport will stop Britain meeting climate obligations: a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030. Climate change already kills 150,000 people per year and causes violent weather patterns in temperate countries.
Around Heathrow we already endure the worst air quality in Europe. Local G.P. Dr Alick Munro said, ”We are over the EU legal limit. It is making people ill. Chronic cough is extremely common among local people”.
The Green Party is the only party opposing airport expansion in and around London.