Leading Labour peer and rail expert slams HS2

Lord Berkeley has sent me a copy of his dissenting report on the HS2 Review and it is damning. It isn’t just his criticisms of the way he was written out of the process, despite being deputy chair of the Review, but his view that the positive conclusions in the Review are not supported by the evidence.  

I know it is difficult for many Greens and Labour supporters to criticise investment in any public transport project, especially one that claims to promote better links with the north of England, but Lord Berkeley is exactly the sort of person you would expect to enthusiastically back HS2. He has been the Labour Opposition transport spokesperson in the Lords. He advises on European matters to the Rail Freight Group, having chaired the group for over 15 years. He was Public Affairs Manager of Eurotunnel from 1981 until the end of construction of the Channel Tunnel in 1994 and before that was involved in the planning and construction of various major projects around the world. He is a rail enthusiast, who has helped deliver rail projects like HS2.

Lord Berkeley believes that the Review suffered from “a bias towards accepting HS2’s evidence in preference to those of others.” He criticises the failure of the Review to go public with evidence from Treasury officials and states that his own best estimate is that the benefit vs cost ratio is possibly as low 0.6 for every pound invested. It therefore ranks as poor value for money when using the Treasury Green Book. 

His dissenting Review concludes that the priority should be spending on regional rail services in the north and midlands. “HS2 is the wrong and expensive solution to ‘making it faster and easier to travel for work and leisure by providing better North South intercity services. Many more people travel to work and leisure on local or regional services, and those in the Northern Power House and Midlands Connect areas are some of the worst in the country.

There is strong evidence that the greatest need and demand for improved rail services is within the regions… “Its stated aim of providing better North South links is just as likely to attract more jobs from the regions to London than the other way round.”

Parliamentary support for this project was generated four years ago when the costing for HS2 Phase 1 was £15.1bn (2016). It is time for Parliament to rethink that support as the financial cost now stands at £54.5bn (2019 prices), an increase of 361%. That is a lot of money to spend on an environmentally devastating project that brings limited economic returns. 

Met Police acted unlawfully in Extinction rebellion ban

This is an historic win because for the first time we’ve challenged the police on overstepping their powers and we’ve won. It’s great.

This shows how the police have gone beyond their powers when dealing with peaceful environmental protests, There is a pattern in recent years of the police being under pressure from the government to help impose fracking on communities that don’t want it and to stop the highly successful Extinction Rebellion from raising the issue of climate change. Government Ministers were very vocal in wanting the police to clamp down on Extinction Rebellion’s October protests, after the summer protests led to Parliament passing a motion declaring a climate emergency.

Future Generations Bill introduced

Today, I am introducing the Future Generations Bill on behalf of independent peer, John Bird (founder of Big Issue). This Bill aims to look after the interests of the very young and those not yet born. In the words of John Bird, the world of tomorrow should: “… not simply be an accumulation of the half-arsed hopes and the short-term governmental thinking of days gone by.”

Continue reading “Future Generations Bill introduced”

Court date 24th October – Extinction rebellion ban

Extinction Rebellion’s application for Judicial Review has been scheduled for an urgent day-long hearing in the High Court on Thursday 24 October from 10.30am. Baroness Jenny Jones, Caroline Lucas MP, Clive Lewis MP, David Drew MP, Ellie Chowns MEP, George Monbiot, and Adam Allnut are bringing the action on behalf of Extinction Rebellion to challenge the police’s blanket ban on our protests across the whole of London for the remainder of the week. Continue reading “Court date 24th October – Extinction rebellion ban”

Legal challenge to Extinction Rebellion ban

A collection of Climate rebels, including Parliamentarians such as myself, Caroline Lucas MP and Ellie Chowns MEP, are taking the Met Police to court to challenge the Section 14 Order which bans Extinction Rebellion Protests throughout the whole of London. We believe that the ban is an abuse of the law and in violation of fundamental human rights and our lawyers are seeking an emergency hearing this afternoon. We expect that the Court will rule the ban null and void. Continue reading “Legal challenge to Extinction Rebellion ban”

Burning more than we recycle

Over two years ago, I predicted that we would now be reaching the point where we burnt more household waste than we recycled and the 2018/19 figures from DEFRA, due to be published this December, will confirm that I was right. I have been warning that this would happen since my time as a London Assembly member, when it became clear that several London boroughs were tied into incineration contracts that inevitably led to them recycling far less than neighbouring boroughs. Continue reading “Burning more than we recycle”

Green New Deal, Agriculture and Fisheries

It is no longer hyperbole to state that our planet is facing multiple existential threats. It was the conclusion, and consensus, of international scientists laid out in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report late last year. And it is bolstered by the UN’s terrifying new report by the Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. The conclusions can be summarised in a simple truth: humanity has caused mass extinctions and we are destroying the natural systems on which we all depend. It isn’t too late to change course – but we cannot delay a moment longer. Continue reading “Green New Deal, Agriculture and Fisheries”

Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions

Today Jenny wrote to Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions (CAGNE), the volunteers behind the ‘Pledge to Fly Less’ environmental campaign to say:

Jenny supports you; she thinks it is vital to put the brakes on airport expansion to save the planet

Continue reading “Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions”

The Heathrow question

The government can’t push ahead with Heathrow, unless they reject the latest advice from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC). In 2016, the Airports Commission used evidence from the CCC to state that Heathrow expansion was OK if we stayed within national limits for carbon emissions, but the CCC now want the UK target changed to zero emissions by 2050 and have stated that aviation expansion will have to be curbed. Continue reading “The Heathrow question”