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Monday, June 4, 2012

HS2 blighted villagers to become film stars

The environment is becoming a new source of potential tension within the Coalition and within the Conservative Party. David Cameron and the Liberal Democrats have tended to emphasise climate change as central to their green agenda while local Tory councils and Tory supporters have been more focused on local and micro-environmentalism. This has meant Tory councils have often led the agenda on recycling and energy conservation, for example*, but have either opposed or been reluctant supporters of action on climate change if it means the installation of wind farms.

Perhaps the biggest clash between the two green worldviews will come over HS2. The PM and his Coalition partners see high-speed rail as an essential way of reducing demand for short haul air travel but Tory voters across much of England see the planned railway as devastating for the beauty of the countryside. Sources tell me that the Treasury is sounding ever louder warnings within Whitehall about the escalating estimated costs of the project. There is a lot of sympathy for the view put forward in the Alternative Queen's Speech that we should forget HS2 and upgrade existing rail infrastructure and get a cheaper, quicker hit.
George Osborne has been leading the counter-attack against the climate change agenda since last autumn. His former Chief of Staff Matt Hancock MP is writing a paper on energy bills in another sign of what is preoccupying Team Osborne. Yesterday's Observer reported that the Chancellor wanted a 25% cut in the subsidies that the renewable energy industry needs. He is unlikely to get the policy changes he seeks because Ed Davey and other Liberal Democrats regard policy on climate change as non-negotiable. Mr Osborne's interventions may, nonetheless, have an impact. The IPPR think tank warns today, for example, that the way in which ministers are blowing hot and cold over energy policy is discouraging companies from investing in green technologies. Another impact of the Chancellor's muscular approach may be to encourage Tory councils to introduce presumptions in their planning guidance against windfarms. This is what Lincolnshire County Council is now doing.

The film has been made by Philip Krstic and Richard Forrest, two final year students in media production from Lincoln University, and shows how the village is more affected than anywhere along the HS2 line and deserves special treatment in the form of a deep bore tunnel, 7km in length, extending into Berkswell.

It will be shown to invited guests at a red carpet premier at Burton Green village hall on Friday June 22 and will then be reproduced so politicians and other members of the public can see it.

Archie Taylor, chairman of Burton Green parish council, said: “We came across Philip and Richard when they were filming in Burton Green. For their final assignment, they were doing a study of HS2 in our area and I saw the film which they produced and it was outstanding. Because of this I asked them to do a film on Burton Green to celebrate the village and show how HS2 threatens its very existence.”

Cllr Taylor helped direct the film and a number of other people were also involved especially Mary Webb and Rona Taylor who finalised the script.

Mr Forrest said: “My experience filming with the residents of Burton Green made me understand the importance and impact that a community can have during a time of crisis.

“The powerful words we captured on film really shows the whole community are pulling together and all have the same goal. I met some extraordinary people during filming and wish the community the best of luck with their ongoing campaign.”

Mr Krstic added: “Before I embarked on making the documentary, I went in with an open mind and not knowing an awful lot about the train line. Having met campaigners who are both directly and indirectly affected by the line, it has become clear that the destruction and devastation it will cause to so many people is by no means justified.

“As a community, Burton Green has a very strong leg to stand on with regards to fighting its case. I wish them all the luck in the world with their fight for mitigation and to save their community.
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