Sunday, 16 January 2011


Countryfile. BBC. Sunday, 16 January. Geoffrey Palmer, the hangdog actor, rails against HS2 - the high-speed rail-link promoted by successive British governments.

Mr Palmer lives in a pleasant and expensive part of the Chilterns and doesn't want a railway nearby. He claims that the economic case for the HS2 has not been proven.

Now, it would be churlish to point out that Britain's economic growth in the past was stimulated by mail coaches, canals and motorways. Oh, and railways, of course. The fact is that HS2 is simply the latest in a long line of developments which, by making it possible to travel and convey goods from one part of the country to another, brought us into the modern age. So the claim that the economic case for HS2 is unproven is - well, basically, it's nonsense.

It's the equivalent of the "windfarms don't work" argument - a line which collapses the moment you realise that windfarms do work. Pretty well, in fact.

But, like the ludicrous arguments deployed by the windy nimbies, the anti-HS2 arguments are fundamentally flawed, unsupported by any evidence and entirely self-serving. It's what we call "confirmation bias" - you decide to oppose something and then go hunting high and low for any "evidence" which appears to confirm your stance, blithely ignoring the great weight of evidence that proves you wrong. In the case of nimbies, up and down the country, what that means in practice is that you'll believe - and endlessly regurgitate - no end of claptrap, while bullying anyone who knows better than you do.

On the Countryfile report, they showed Middle Englanders holding their ears while a recording of a high-speed train was played to them at full volume.

Now, if you happen to be lying on the tracks, you might find the sound of a train passing overhead quite noticeable. Just as if you happen to be standing inside a wind turbine mast, the chances are you'll hear the sound of the mechanism working.

The point, of course, is that most of us won't be lying down between the HS2 tracks or standing inside a turbine mast - and anyone who's minded to do so really ought to think twice about it. But by playing recordings of that nature - and doing so at top volume - the nimbies are grossly distorting the reality of the situation. Let's face it: even Geoffrey Palmer isn't going to be lying underneath every high-speed train which passes by.

A very similar, equally shabby tactic was attempted by our very own nimbies. King Nimby reckoned he'd managed to get hold of a recording of a windfarm in Cumbria. He was apparently unable to say when this recording was made and where the microphone was positioned. He said it was the sound of a windfarm (yeah, right), and one of his witless drones tried playing it as loud as possible through a mobile amplifier until the police were called and told them to stop it.

Only a complete idiot (or VVASP-supporter, as they're also known) would have fallen for that one. Anyone who had taken the trouble to visit a real windfarm would instantly know that King Nimby and his VVASP clones were trying to pull a fast one. It was a cheap and shabby stunt - rather like flying a blimp which looks like nothing a wind turbine in order to give people a completely false impression (such behaviour has been criticised at planning inquiries, but that won't stop the naughty nimbies doing it again and again).

No, nimbies everywhere are remarkably similar. They are the UK's answer to the Tea-Party Movement in the US. Pumped up on hate-fuelled propaganda, desperate to lash out at anything and anyone, ruthlessly manipulated by dangerous demagogues, selfish, deluded and morally indefensible, these movements are a major threat to democracy, society, human rights and the environment. They are the last refuge of the swivel-eyed right-winger - the sort who think Sarah Palin and Eric Pickles are capable of cogent reasoning. The sort who would sell their neighbours, their communities and their countries downriver for thirty pieces of silver.

They are Flat-Earthers, each and every one.


  1. Examine the facts! The intended speed of these trains means they will be less efficient than air travel. We are not NIMBYs -I do not live on the line and I walked the whole route to see for myself what is at stake. Please look at the detail of this proposal before judging

  2. Your post is simply a rant against so-called nimbys.
    Please deal with the arguments and provide proper evidence.
    Only then will you obtain a semblence of respect and credibility.
    In respect of your pretentious native american quote on this page presumably the earth is going to enjoy the equivalent of an airport runway ploughed through Great Britain's spine

  3. "Examine the facts! The intended speed of these trains means they will be less efficient than air travel"

    That is not a "fact"; that is exactly the kind of claptrap that this article is talking about. Less efficient that air travel? I'd like to see the maths for that! Go on, prove it, nimby!