How to destroy the countryside in 4 easy steps

Image by HS2 Rebellion
"Where the heck did I put that tree...?"

1) Start with a crazed plan to build a high-speed rail link from somewhere that

people don't need to be to somewhere else they don't want to go;

2) Forcibly buy about 2,000 properties from people who don't want to sell;

3) Chop down as much woodland as possible, scrape off the topsoil and dump it somewhere else: Call it 'translocation'.

4) Spend billions of pounds in the process...

It would be an amusing read if this was fiction, but unfortunately it is all too real.

I feel I should stop reading the news because it only upsets/ annoys /angers me, but once again I feel the need to write about the madness of HS2.

Ancient woodlands (places continuously wooded since at least 1600) are being permanently removed during a race to create a rail line that shaves some 20 minutes off a journey.

That in itself is remarkably insane, but what is perhaps even more akin to taking crazy-pills is a concept of removing habitats by digger, tree stumps and all, and then plumping it out of the way somewhere in the hope that it may spring back to life. At the forefront of this lunacy is a young man called Sam Whittall, an ecologist for HS2, who posed confidently in front of some sticks whilst looking like one of the 'men-in-black' in some natty dark glasses, possibly due to all the sun that is a typical feature of the United Kingdom...

At one of the craters left by HS2 (sorry - I mean the thoughtfully razed forest-that-was) it was noted that some bees had moved into one of the dead tree stumps and a single twig had started growing from another.

Fantastic! All we have to do now, of course is wait at least 50 years for this new environment to somehow put itself back together. I feel that this ridiculous process is akin to digging up a street somewhere, together with the houses, people and all their belongings, putting everything into a dump truck and tipping them all out in the middle of nowhere. "Here's your new home guys. Enjoy!"

And it doesn't seem to matter that many people, thoughtful, intelligent, concerned people, are worried about it or that many others are quietly asking questions about the need for this rail line. And this is because nothing can stop the relentless damage being done to our very small island in the face of HS2's desire to get to Birmingham a little bit faster.

Of course, the chances are that once it is actually built you are likely to be told that the whole of Northern England is shut for the Covid holidays and you have to go back home. But as you wend your way back south and glance out at what is left of the countryside, at the blackened stumps of once-great trees and very confused small mammals, you can at least be reasonably confident that HS2, destroyer of small worlds, made it all possible.

Nick MacIneskar