House of Commons Report Confirms HS2 Has Catastrophic Environmental Consequences

HS2AA welcomes today’s report by the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee on HS2 and the Environment.

The report details just how HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport have failed to protect the environment in coming up with plans for the new high speed line. The Report concludes that HS2 Ltd should reduce the speed of its trains, cede responsibility for environmental mitigation to a new independent body and commit to a far higher standard on biodiversity.

Hilary Wharf, Director HS2AA said “There can be no doubt after today’s report that HS2 is toxic for our environment. HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport have been working on this project for over 5 years but the Committee found they had only surveyed 60% of the route and failed to comply with basic policy on biodiversity.

HS2AA supports the Committee’s conclusions that it’s time for a fundamental rethink of approach-including the creation of an independent body to oversee environmental mitigation, a ring fenced environmental protection budget and a cap on the maximum speed of HS2 until our electricity generation is fully decarbonised, something which is forecast to take place many decades from now. We therefore have an influential Parliamentary committee calling for a fundamental rethink less than three weeks before the proposed Second Reading of the HS2 Hybrid Bill. The Committee even shares HS2AA’s concerns on whether the Parliamentary process the Government has suggested for obtaining consent to build HS2 is legally effective-which was an issue we contacted the Speaker about just last week.

It’s clear that the Government needs to listen to the conclusions of this independent committee if it is serious about protecting our environment.”

The Environmental Audit Committee’s report followed evidence from HS2AA, the Government and HS2 Ltd. The Report calls for a fundamental rethink on how environmental impacts of HS2 are assessed, measured and mitigated. As a sign of the lack of trust in HS2 Ltd to deliver such outcomes, the Committee recommends the creation of a new independent body, a ring fenced budget and a reduction in the speed of HS2’s trains until the UK’s electricity generation is decarbonised. The Committee’s conclusions on the proposed mechanism for obtaining consent to construct HS2, through Parliament using a Hybrid Bill also comes under serious scrutiny. This last issue was something which HS2AA wrote to the House of Commons authorities about just last week.