The Greens support high speed rail in principle because it should improve Britain’s transport system, reduce road and air traffic and help cut carbon emissions.
But HS2 does too much damage to local communities and to the environment, and 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 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.
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. and Green candidate Dr Alick Munro said, ”We are over the EU legal limit. It is making people ill. Chronic cough is extremely common among local people”.
Increased noise from aircraft will reduce quality of life in areas to the east and west of the new runway.
Harlington, Sipson and Harmondsworth are suffering from planning blight.
Heathrow proposes to buy 4000 homes and deduct 783 0f them from the stock of homes available around London. Those who move out may not find equivalent homes elsewhere for the payment on offer.
70% of passengers at Heathrow are UK citizens taking holidays abroad. A holiday here in the UK would improve our balance of payments.
London already has six airports and seven runways. They are not all fully utilised. There is no urgency.
The cost of a new runway is £18.6Bn, plus £5Bn for a tunnel for the M25. The cost to the taxpayer will be £5.7Bn. That investment is needed for housing in London.
The Green Party is the only party opposing airport expansion in and around London.
If you have picked up one of our Quiz leaflets the answers are printed below.