An alternative to pricing nature is pricing jobs. Here is a radical approach to stopping HS2 in its tracks.
You offer the CEO £10m to denounce the project and resign. By denouncing it and revealing its illegalities and lies, he undermines morale to the point that people won’t want to work for it. It makes it very hard, if not impossible, for the government to hire a replacement. And the venture loses its political mojo and grinds to a halt.
If you are working for HS2 you can’t be that rich – otherwise you would not do that job – so £10m is life-changing. This is a sum which the RPSB, the Woodland Trust, the Wildlife Trusts and the National Trusts could put together, with the support of a few, discreet, very rich donors.
It would need to be done with the help of a lawyer to be sure the guy is not breaking any rules. Probably presented as a mea culpa, a realisation that “I can’t go on living this lie any more.” Lawyers can get the wording right.
The key to this is that any organisation is the sum of its individuals. It does not exist without the people populating it. So go for the individuals not the institution. If you undermine the individuals, you undermine the organisation. But if you attack the organisation itself, the individuals will leap to its defence.
It would be a big bet – perhaps the project could recover after a high profile, damaging resignation. But perhaps not – perhaps it would be the perfect get out for a government which does not believe in the project, but, like a train, finds it difficult to do a u-turn.