Adam Marshall writes that HS2 will "treble capacity" ("UK business has an urgent need for speed", 10 March). Treble capacity of what? If he believes that passenger numbers will be trebled, he is prophesying that with one new line, the 1.48 billion passengers of 2011-12 will increase to over four billion. Is he serious?
He and the Government seem to be labouring under the delusion that HS2 will leach business, manufacturing and commerce from the bloated South-east to the starving Midlands and North.
If the Government wants to invest, or encourage others to invest, in infrastructure, the public would be better served by a wholesale upgrade of the broadband network with the laying of fibre-optic cables to all parts. This would at least reach all the people, rather than only those who live along the proposed line of HS2 and who may not be able to afford the fares that will be required to obtain a return on the investment.
I love rail travel, but sinking such a vast sum of money into a project that is already costing hundreds of millions is a grave misplacement of money that can be better spent elsewhere.
Rising construction costs are blamed for the HS2 project being over budget. But outside London, the construction industry has been in recession for the past five years, with costs flat-lining at best and in some areas falling continuously. Indeed, tender prices are forecast to drop a further 1 per cent overall this year as order levels fall 10 per cent further. However, initial construction budgets were incorrectly estimated by the budget's author, and are now being increased to accord with reality. Incorrect budgets and inflation are not the same thing.
Wakefield, West Yorkshire
The Government is trying to avoid fully compensating those potentially blighted by the HS2 abomination. When these people successfully secure full compensation, either through the Government being forced to concede its position or being dragged through the courts – the cost will rise much further still.
I am very curious as to why you gave Graham Rix a page-long plea ("No one will give me a job", 10 March). Yes, he pleaded guilty to two of the four charges against him and served his time. However, he was a 42-year-old man who had sex with a 15-year-old girl. That he "believed [her] to be older than her 15 years" makes his actions no better, in that he thought it was acceptable to sleep with a child 25 years younger, as long as she was "legal". I am very disappointed.
There are dramatically cheaper and greener alternatives to both incineration and landfill ("UK incinerator plans? They're just rubbish", 10 March). All it needs is for waste to be collected in three streams: recyclables, organics (food and garden waste) and residuals (15 per cent). It costs councils £101- £131 to burn a ton of waste, while recyclables can be sold for a minimum of £26 per ton mixed, or £100-£800 separated. Food waste, which comprises a third of all waste heading for the burner, could be tendered out to anaerobic digestion at £41 per ton. This process produces near carbon-free energy, unlike incinerators which create high quantities of fossil CO2.
Yugo Kovach asks if it is "time for the emergence on the left of a Ukip equivalent" (Letters, 10 March). The Greens already fulfil such a role, gaining a Bradford seat at the last general election. Sadly, though, the environment has become less of a public issue since the recession, making it harder for them to make further breakthroughs.
Brian Sewell can afford now to pop over to Kuwait to see all the art he likes ("Much-loved Picasso to leave Britain for ever", 10 March). But if there had been no public art collections when he was young, would we know of Sewell the art critic today?
Robert Evan Hardy
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