Why is the UK so bad at infrastructure projects?

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Thursday 22 August 2019 18:43
Comments
Grant Schapps announces independent review into HS2 rail project

What is it with the UK and major infrastructure projects? We have endless public enquiries, minority interest pressure groups often drown out the debates, we put the projects off for years then have more enquiries, in the end we either abandon them completely or they go off at half cock and cost vastly more than if we had just got on with it in the first place.

Why do we so persistently fail to learn from other countries? Anyone who has used the high speed rail systems in Europe, especially in France, Germany, Spain and Italy knows what a boon they are both to commerce and to private and leisure travel. Is our attractive English countryside so much more beautiful than the rolling hills of Tuscany traversed with elegant railways and multiple tunnels that are marvels of engineering?

Of course London initially will perhaps benefit the most from HS2, but as the system develops there will be huge connectivity benefits for the north. In due course we could ban all internal flights, with significant benefits for the environment.

We spend billions on a pointless nuclear defence system and on aircraft carriers which could be blown out of the water by a single Russian or Chinese missile, but the country which invented railways begrudges the cost of creating a coherent modern railway system.

As if the madness of Brexit weren’t enough, this mealy-mouthed lack of imagination on major projects increasingly defines this admirable and beautiful country of ours. I begin to despair!

Gavin Turner
Gunton

Jo Swinson is no populist

The idea that Jo Swinson is the Remainer’s Donald Trump is absurd and insulting.

Trump is someone who has regularly made sexist comment about women. Jo Swinson when in government implemented shared parental leave and has consistently promoted gender-related issues.

Trump is someone who regularly denigrates foreign leaders who cross him and seeks to pull out of international alliances like the Paris Climate Agreement. Jo Swinson by contrast believes the UK is better off staying in the European Union to fight climate change.

Corbyn isn’t a hate figure for us Lib Dems. He is just a staggering hypocrite who complains about human rights issues in the Middle East while ignoring the plight of the Venezuelan people suffering from decades of populist rule.

He complains about the lack of a free press in some countries yet he took money from Press TV in Iran which is banned by Ofcom. James Smith and other Corbyn fans should try not to shoot the messenger. If Corbyn couldn’t win a general election in 2017 after the worst Tory campaign in living memory and his MPs don’t have confidence in him – he only has himself and not Jo Swinson to blame.

Chris Key
Address supplied

Johnson’s arrogance

I read in bewilderment Boris Johnson’s oral insistence before his whistlestop tour to meet European leaders that leaving the EU cannot be stopped by any means on 31 October, even if parliament passes legislation to prevent this happening.

Suppose, for example, 51 per cent of people voted in a referendum to abolish taxation on one’s personal earnings due on say 31 October. Then suppose parliament before this date passes legislation which decreed that under no circumstances could a taxpayer fail to pay lawfully imposed taxation. Surely the prime minister could not then off his own bat simply abolish such taxation? I find Johnson’s statement arrogant, nonsensical and undemocratic.

David Ashton
Shipbourne

Trump is an unreliable partner

If President Trump wants to to throw his toys out of the pram when his ridiculous offer to buy Greenland is rejected then that is his prerogative. However it is a salutary reminder to us that when we come to “negotiate “ a trade deal with the US this is how we can expect the president to behave when he can’t get his own way.

Having taken a policy decision to be Trump’s poodle rather than a member of the largest trading bloc in the world don’t be surprised if the relationship is governed by tantrums rather than mutual self interest.

Jack Liebeskind
Cheltenham

Climate emergency? The government needs to encourage the public to walk and cycle

Your article “UK is set to miss net-zero 2050 target with ‘dire consequences’, MPs warn” shines a spotlight on how ineffective current policies are at tackling our climate emergency.

In 2018, the average concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere hit its highest level in 800,000 years and without urgent action to reduce emissions this concentration will continue to grow.

Transport is the only sector where CO2 emissions are rising as our reliance on motor vehicles remains at an all-time high. If we are to help everyone travel more sustainably and reduce harmful emissions, we need to make it easier for more people to replace trips that they currently make by car with walking and cycling.

There is public appetite to travel more sustainably. The UK’s biggest assessment of cycling in cities (Bike Life 2017) reveals that 53 per cent of people would like to start cycling or cycle more but its perceived danger is still a huge barrier.

To increase active journeys, and meet the walking and cycling targets set for 2025, the UK government must commit greater funding to build dedicated walking and cycling infrastructure in the next Spending Round and following Spending Review in 2020.

Failure to do so will have a detrimental impact on the future of our environment.

Rachel White
Head of Public Affairs at Sustrans​ (a charity dedicated to making it easier for people to walk and cycle)

Holocaust denial in the Labour Party

Whether the Labour Party eventually does anything effective to curb antisemitism in its ranks, after a regional board member was suspended for sharing an article which appeared to promote Holocaust denial, the fact remains that Holocaust denial is a non-tenable position. The Nazi regime was characterised by, among other things, meticulous record-keeping, which is why we can have confidence that accounts of the Holocaust are reliable.

Eamonn Rodgers
Glasgow

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