HS2 – is it really too late to think again?

I’ll start with a confession – since hearing it proposed at a LibDem conference fringe meeting back in 2008 or thereabouts I have been a fan of HS2 – or at least the concept that the UK needs a high speed rail network. So throughout the debates about routing and costs I have generally followed the advice of people I know who have researched this more deeply, and gone along with the ‘consensus’ that this is a ‘good idea’.

However, I have never been persuaded that the specifications are appropriate, and have always been concerned that there was too much emphasis being put on speed rather than connectivity. I also believe that the costs should be challenged and that the timescale is too slow. Surely there was a better alternative?

Well this week I recieved an email from ‘High Speed for All’ – an organisation that (I have to admit) had not appeared on my radar previously. They have developed the alternative that might be the answer. It certainly grabbed my attention, and not just because it avoids the Chilterns’ Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), but mostly because it talks about a High Speed Network, and not just a High Speed Line. And they have apparently researched it meticulously, mapping the entire new network at 1:25,000 (although they don’t publish these) and calculating a significant cost saving over HS2/HS3 (although I would take any such estimates with a pinch of salt until audited).

You can follow the links here for more information. It certainly deserves consideration in my view and if elected I will be calling for this to be given greater priority.

Legal Experts Point up LibDem focus on Green Energy

City lawyers BLP Law have issued a briefing note on the energy policies of each of the parties. Here is what they say about the Liberal Democrat policies:

Liberal Democrats: 60% of electricity from renewable sources by 2030

They have really focused on winning “green” votes and their manifesto focuses very much on decarbonisation, emissions reduction and renewables.

They have created the “Green Magna Carta” – five new laws to fight climate change.

They are the only party (other than the Greens) who specifically refer to biomass, and they are also in favour of both onshore wind and nuclear power.

They refer to a £100 billion investment in low-carbon energy infrastructure by 2020 but there is no mention of how that sum will be raised or how energy will compete with their many other spending priorities.

It is a fair summary and shows just how committed we are to tackling climate change and developing a modern green economy in the UK. The answer to the last point comes mainly from the Green Investment Bank which has already delivered £6billion of new investment (both public and private) into green technology. Ed Davey’s Energy Act has paved the way for significant private investment into this sector.

Energy Bill Revolution gives LibDems five star rating

Energy Bill Revolution gives LibDems five stars for Energy policy

The Energy Bill Revolution is a pressure group set up to end fuel poverty. It is fair to say that have not been 100% supporters of the coalition. But when they look at the Party’s manifestos, it is the LibDems and Greens that come out on top. (Both UKIP and the Tories score Zero Stars by the way. Null points. Nada.)

Here’s what they say:

Liberal Democrats

EBR Rating:  5 Stars

EBR Comment: The Liberal Democrats have committed to both an ambitious new policy framework to deliver whole house retrofits to low income households and a new infrastructure revenue stream to meet ambitious targets, backed by legislation. Strong targets, high standards and new investment. Full marks.

Liberal Democrat Pledges:  

  • make energy efficiency a national infrastructure priority and use capital infrastructure funds to help finance the programme
  • insulate 10 million homes over the next 10 years and 4 million by 2020 with the targets enshrined in a Green Buildings Act
  • zero interest loans for the able to pay for energy efficiency retrofits
  • bring all low income homes up to a high standard of energy efficiency by 2027 (EPC Band C)
  • to bring all social and private rented housing up to a high standard of energy efficiency by 2027 (EPC Band C)

Read the full report here