Carving up the Countryside: Public Footpaths and HS-2

Boris Johnson and George Osbourne have come back from China full of admiration for the way they get things done.  They wonder why we can’t do the same; well I can tell them – we’ve bogged ourselves down in bureaucracy.

On my desk this morning is a plan to alter some footpaths on our farmland, changes to avoid going through a farmyard and to go round ploughed fields rather than through them.  Walkers and our farmers agree these are sensible changes, but how long has it taken to get this far? Seven years, and still some months to run.

These changes are near Staunton Harold; on the Coleorton side of the estate the new high speed rail line serving London, Birmingham and the north is set to go through half a mile of our land.  Should I join the chorus of objectors and try to get it cancelled? Having studied the pros and cons pretty carefully I’ve decided no – the benefits outweigh the drawbacks in my view.  I have travelled from London to Brussels on Eurostar and found it more pleasant than any other way of getting from A to B in our crowded countries.  At present our through trains share the same tracks as the stopping trains, to the detriment of both.  More people are travelling by train than ever before, and by the time it’s built several more millions will be living here.

What is needed to bring the project in on time, and on budget, is one strong and able man, or woman, at the helm.  Without that the jobsworths and nay-sayers will make a nonsense of it. As I drove into Cornwall last week over the TamarBridge I saw Brunel’s railway bridge running alongside, built in 1867 and still carrying trains.  Now there was an engineer and entrepreneur if you like, where can we find another such?