The 47 Wildlife Trusts, with 800,000 members and 2,300 nature reserves have this week delivered a scathing attack on the Government plans for HS2. In a position statement, they state it “Seems misleading for the report to recommend that HS2 has high value for money”, that the authors of the HS2 reports have “significantly underestimated the impact on the natural environment.”, and that they “believe that the environmental case for the current proposals has not been made.”
The current route proposed by HS2, from London to Birmingham, will destroy or irrecoverably damage a large number of important sites. Analysis from the Wildlife Trusts indicates HS2 will impact directly on two Wildlife Trust nature reserves, four SSSIs, ten ancient woodland sites and 53 Local Wildlife Sites or potential Local Wildlife Sites. Track construction will clearly result in substantial loss of land and associated impacts on habitats and species. However, the current Appraisal of Sustainability, produced by HS2 Limited, does not include any financial provision or provide cost estimates for purchasing and managing compensatory habitat in mitigation for lost and/or impacted land.
The Wildlife Trusts statement concludes;
“It therefore seems misleading for the report to recommend that HS2 has high value for money. The cost of securing and managing adequate compensatory habitat may be many millions of pounds. This is currently a hidden cost which, if included, would significantly undermine the economic argument.”
“The Appraisal of Sustainability summary that was issued with the proposal is flawed as it appears to grossly underestimate the wildlife impacts. In addition, it does not give any details of proposed mitigation or compensation, which could include green bridges, extensions of tunnels to avoid protected sites and significant habitat creation.”
“The current approach to assessing the least environmentally damaging route is seriously flawed. There has been an inadequate assessment of the overall impacts. Before pursuing the current proposed route, or any other high speed rail routes, the Government needs to complete a much more in-depth analysis of the impact of a new rail link”
Stop HS2 Campaign Director Joe Rukin said;
“We welcome The Wildlife Trusts position, and they now join the CPRE, SPAB, The National Trust & The Countryside Alliance in expressing concerns over HS2. TWT have simply pointed out what we have been saying all along, that the case for HS2 has simply not been made. All areas of research have been overlooked in a desperate rush to get the project railroaded through.”
Notes to Editors:
1. STOP HS2 is the national group campaigning on behalf of anti-HS2 action groups up and down the proposed route. See http://www.stophs2.org.
2. The Wildlife Trusts position statement can be found at http://www.warwickshire-wildlife-trust.org.uk/media/57738/hs2%20twt%20position%20statement%20oct%202010%20final.pdf
3. For more details from Stop HS2 contact Joe Rukin on 07811 371880, Lizzy Williams on 07842 164880 or Penny Gaines on 01296 655613.
4. People can sign the Stop HS2 petition via the Stop HS2 website or directly at http://www.gopetition.co.uk/petitions/stop-hs2/sign.html.