Natural Capital and HS2

This is the response from BBOWT to the TSC report.

The Transport Select Committee report into High Speed 2 sets out clear challenges for the Government. The report highlights a number of areas where changes in approach are needed if the Government decides to go ahead.

The Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust is writing to the Secretary of State urging her to take account of the committee’s recommendations before she makes decisions on the way forward for a high speed rail network, and specifically HS2.

Nationally, the Wildlife Trusts have been calling for the impacts of the whole route to be taken into account – a point the committee is very clear about. Extract from paragraph 14 of the Report Summary: “It is also of concern that the Government intends to reach a decision on whether to proceed with Phase I before information on the Y network is published and before many of the environmental impacts for both phases are clear. We recommend that no decision is taken until such strategic information on Phase II is published, appraised and consulted upon.”

The Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust has consistently called for the Government to undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment of the environmental impacts of the whole HS2 route including the Y routes north of Birmingham. This would include assessing alternatives to high speed rail and the current proposed route.

The Transport Select Committee was also clear that the current proposals do not take sufficient account of the impact they would have on the local natural environment. Extract from paragraph 83 of the Report states: “We recommend that the revised business plan for HS2 should take account of the Government’s new approach to economic appraisal, which places a monetary value on natural capital. It should also make explicit whether this approach would suggest changes to the alignment or design of the route proposed by HS2 Ltd.”

The Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust welcomes this recommendation, and urges the Government to align its commitment to being the ‘greenest Government ever’, and its ambitions in the Natural Environment White Paper, with its approach to the wider public transport network.

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