The rationale for the Conservative Government continuing to push through HS2, the proposed high speed rail link, can easily be summed up by these immo...
Not only are developers ruining London for the people who actually live here, the development of HS2 is going to destroy some of Britain's most idyllic countryside, all for a train line that many will not be able to afford to travel on.
HS2, Crossrail, Thameslink and the much-needed expansion of the UK's airport capacity. These are all projects which promise to transform our infrastructure landscape and drive a competitive, healthy and resilient UK economy for the future.
The railway is more than a political football. It's an agent of change. If HS2 were implemented with unblinkered vision, it could bring an economic revolution. The north is more than half a dozen cities designated by Barbara Castle as deserving of a transport executive in decades long passed...
If we are going to go ahead with spending tens of billions on High Speed Two then at the very least we need to be sure that we are getting the best value for money and ensuring that the maximum benefit is felt, both for the economy and for the people in cities such as Stoke-on-Trent. The proposals as they stand fail to meet any of these criteria and this should be to the utter shame of all those involved.
The Hybrid Bill that makes the provisions for the planning of 'Phase One' of the project, from London to Birmingham, no longer represents a direct threat to Camden's businesses community. Actually, it now represents an opportunity; and one that we are keen to pursue.
HS2 raises the prospect of an unacceptable treble hit. Firstly, essential farmland is being lost to the line; secondly, larger areas which have been highlighted for habitat creation and tree planting will take valuable food-producing land out of production. And thirdly, far more new habitat is being imposed than is being lost on a questionable 'bigger is better' principle.
Two recent interventions in the national infrastructure debate have given significant encouragement to those who believe public spending on big projects needs to be more focused on growth opportunities outside London and the South East.
What is important now, and what we will continue to petition Government on, is that the uncertainty that has been blighting businesses in Camden is removed as soon as possible. The safeguarding of this section of the route has meant that businesses in Camden have been reluctant to invest or hire skilled staff.
HS2 Ltd wants to plough through the centre of Camden, taking over the bridges and shutting down businesses for years to create a link with the old high speed railway to Europe. On paper, building this line means road closures, bridge widening, transport disruptions. In practice, it could mean the end of Camden as we know it.
The UK Railways have a problem. I'm not talking of 'leaves on the line' (a VERY real issue, as any of my colleagues would readily testify!) or 'the wrong type of snow'. I'm talking about our industry's startling ability to get taken for granted...
So HS2 is another step closer to fruition, 50,000 pages of detail closer no less. I have no trouble admitting I am delighted this project is moving along relatively swiftly, despite bumps in the road so far.
This particular Bill is something of a behemoth... with a colossal 50,000 page environmental impact assessment to accompany it. Within those 50,000 pages lies the future of Camden Town. Every single road closure, bridge widening and business affected is supposed to be taken into consideration within the report. It's why it's so big. However, we don't think they've taken the impact on Camden seriously enough.
HS2 needs to link up to our existing high speed rail line that takes us to France. The current proposal for this would mean a link that cuts directly through the heart of Camden Town... 90% of Camden Lock market falls within 30 meters of site, as does 95% of Stables market. Hawley market would effectively be closed, with other iconic markets devastated by the project.
Whilst I've worked in the rail industry for over a decade, I am first and foremost a rail traveller. And although I am currently living in Madrid, I am a regular traveller on the European rail network. So when I first heard about the proposed HS2 high-speed rail plans, one of my first thoughts was "what will this do for me?"
Anyone hoping that this week's reshuffle would inject some much needed decisiveness into the UK's top transport and infrastructure projects will have been in for disappointment. The Department for Transport has had two of its ministers replaced, and the Shadow Transport team has had a change of leader...