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London-Birmingham rail link HS2 - kevin wooldridge - 10th January 2012

Today's moral dilemma....

The announcement that the government intends to go ahead with the HS2 rail link between London and Birmingham is likely to require a significant amount of archaeological work along the line of the route. No one can doubt that the impact 'bonus' in both research opportunities and employment prospects could be significant, but should we as archaeologists (and human beings!!) be opposing the project on the grounds of the unproven overall benefits of the rail project. Or just keep schtum and turn up with the wheelbarrow to cart away the dosh...!!

BTW does anyone know who is currently involved archaeologically with this project. The DFT website has crashed this morning so can't check the fine print of the proposal....

London-Birmingham rail link HS2 - Jack - 10th January 2012

Any expansion/improvement of our rubbish public transport system is to be long as it is actually affordable by the public!

Down with private transport!

But I suspect this project (and others to follow) is more to do with boosting the economy and providing jobs.

Usual model of the economy is doing lots of public works

Of course committees of rich big wigs and corporations with jump at the opportunity to sit at the top of the pile and bleed off as much money as they can to line their pockets.

Ever wonder why when something is built it never comes in on budget?

'Filthy little hobbites. They stole it from us.'

London-Birmingham rail link HS2 - P Prentice - 10th January 2012

professional archaeology is mostly concerned with (plying) a trade-off between the greater good and the archaeological resource. the greater good is invariably without concensus as is the value of the resource. we are no better and no worse placed than any other pilgrims to a moral high ground and no worse and no better than any other sinner in the plunging economy.
will i be polishing off my wheelbarrow - i should coco

London-Birmingham rail link HS2 - kevin wooldridge - 10th January 2012

...but there must be somewhere that the majority of UK archaeologists would draw a line in the sand. Say for example this was a High Speed railline that proposed crossing Salisbury Plain and seriously compromising (maybe even destroying) monuments/sites in its path...sure there would be plenty of work as a result and potentially some very interesting sites, but if the purpose of the rail link was to enable a few well off folk a faster link to their east Dorsetshire golf course or yacht marina wouldn't some of us feel that maybe the end didn't justify the means...?

London-Birmingham rail link HS2 - P Prentice - 10th January 2012

i would think that most of us would love to dig up salisbury plain

London-Birmingham rail link HS2 - moreno - 10th January 2012

I would like to think that "we" (as archaeologists) would welcome the opportunity for more work over le longue dur?e. As a member of the public (changing hats), I certainly would call into question detrimental development where (changing hats) archaeology and or ethnology is concerned.

London-Birmingham rail link HS2 - Filter - 10th January 2012

Who will be getting the contract? I wonder....

London-Birmingham rail link HS2 - tom wilson - 10th January 2012

As a 'heritage professional', my thoughts are: what are the impacts? Can they be mitigated (another can of worms)? If not, can the 'loss of significance' be justified in terms of benefits to other aspects of the common welfare (in this case: climate change, reduction in car emissions, etc.). EIA should sort this out, in theory. I don't know how much work has been done already, but at least some screening/scoping work identifying 'show-stoppers' because there has been reference made in the press to alterations to the route on gronds of Listed buildings. That implies that the experts involved have decided that it can be done acceptably, so now the question is to work out how. I have no problem with this and am surprised at Kev that you seem to.

As a tax payer, my thoughts are: what economic benefit will this actually bring for that enormous outlay? Could we use our money more wisely? I applaud any attempt to reduce our national carbon footprint or rebalance the geographic economic disparity inb this country; however, I am yet to be convinced that this is a good use of our money.

On another point touched on by earlier posters, I turned pro in archaeology when a Conservative government was busy spending our way out of recession by building roads. I was pretty dismayed when the first thing Gideon did was cancel ?1.2 billion of road projects. Perhaps someone has recently slipped him a book abpout Kenynesian economics.

London-Birmingham rail link HS2 - kevin wooldridge - 10th January 2012

Hei Tom....I am kind of playing Devils Advocate does intrigue me that archaeologists are broadly classified as lying within an environmentally friendly camp, but we rarely ever register a protest, if the end result is likely to result in a lost 'archaeological' opportunity. I just wondered if there are still any archaeologists out there who would consider themselves also as 'eco-warriors'.....My own personal archaeological conscience on such matters doesn't stand up to very much interrogation, I worked on HS1 the London-Channel Tunnel link, on Jubilee Line sites in London and on various road schemes both in UK and I don't occupy the moral high ground. Just making enquiries on behalf of Satan.....

London-Birmingham rail link HS2 - tom wilson - 10th January 2012

Fair play Kev.

Another rationalisation would be to say that if a project is going ahead, no matter how contentious it might be, it's best that a good a job of mitigating adverse impacts on 'heritage assets' is carried out. And who better to do it than us, eh? :-) That's helped me sleep when working on greenfield sites, roads and burial grounds in the past. I'd still much rather work on renewables, rail etc. though.