A factsheet a day helps keep the HS2 train away

This was written by Oliver Newham of the Woodland Trust. This morning there will be a debate in Parliament about High Speed 2 and ancient woodlands in Westminster Hall. You will be able to watch it on Parliament TV.

When the full Environmental Statement for the first phase of High Speed Two (London-Birmingham) is published later this year, the expectation is that it will weigh around 1.5 tonnes and come in at around 50,000 pages in length. This hefty tome we now know[i], will subsequently be opened up for public consultation.

While this is certainly positive news for all those in opposition to HS2 Ltd’s proposed route, worries persist. The current consultation, on the draft version of the document, runs to 5,000 pages and has been fraught with problems.

From inconsistencies (different writers have covered different geographical areas) and inaccuracies, to glaring omissions (on crucial areas such as biodiversity) the diligent few that venture beyond the non-technical summary have found it difficult going.

As an organisation here to protect native woods and trees, our official response will point out many of these problems and make HS2 Ltd aware that we believe the draft statement is not fit for purpose.

At the same time, we have produced a toolkit and a number of factsheets all of which should assist communities along the line with their replies. Focusing on our area of knowledge, woodland, you will find a basic explanatory document regarding how to reply as well as others covering important issues in more depth, such as buffering, compensation and noise and vibration.

Remember you have until 11 July to respond to the draft environmental statement, either as part of a community or as an individual. It’s crucial you make your voice heard. We are hear to assist you in any way we can, so do get in touch


[i] James Wharton

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is taking to ensure that the Hybrid Bill process for High Speed 2 is compliant with (a) the public participation requirements of the Aarhus Convention and (b) the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive. [159346]

Mr McLoughlin

The Government intends to lay a motion in the House proposing that Standing Orders are amended to address these requirements. In particular they would incorporate a period of consultation on the Environmental Statement between introduction and second reading for projects promoted via a hybrid Bill. This follows the precedent set by the Crossrail Act and will ensure that the decisions made at Second and Third Reading on HS2 are informed by the public’s views on its environmental effects.

It will be for the House to decide whether these changes should be made but the Government’s intention is that the motion should be laid later this month.

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