Disappointment at lack of ambition

Wednesday 18th June 2014

Lost opportunity for rail plan to bolster nature’s recovery.

A call for a more ambitious objective than ‘no net biodiversity loss’ for HS2 has been rejected in a report published by the Government.

With valuable local nature reserves at risk of being almost completely destroyed by the project, Interim Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country, Nick Hammond said: “It is deeply disappointing that the government has not only failed to recognise the damage that HS2 is going to cause, but that it is also missing a golden opportunity a positive difference. Imaginitively planned, this project could produce a net gain for people and wildlife along the route.”

Today’s response to the Environmental Audit Committee’s report on HS2 and the environment, also largely rejects recommendations on allowing compensatory habitats away from the route.

Nick Hammond continues: “An opportunity to demonstrate real ambition to restore nature here in Birmingham and the Black Country and along the length of the route and help heal blighted communities and damaged areas of natural habitat has been missed. We cannot understand how the government can consider ‘no net biodiversity loss’ to be ‘appropriate' when in other documents it claims to understand the need to repair nature.”

Steve Trotter, The Wildlife Trusts’ Director, England, added: “Proclaimed by Government as a visionary project, it should be visionary at every level. Government could and should be ensuring that HS2 is a pioneering example of minimum damage and maximum repair for nature.

“Our recently published vision showcases how large-scale nature restoration could help communities and the countryside most at risk from the proposed High Speed railway line, and for a tiny percentage of the overall budget.

“Today the government has failed to rise to the challenge but The Wildlife Trusts will continue to make the environmental, social and economic case for properly addressing the impact of HS2 on wildlife and ecosystems.”

Wildlife Trusts along the course of the route collaborated on ‘HS2: A vision for large-scale nature restoration along the Proposed Route’ running the full length of the HS2 line (Phases 1 & 2). The vision shows how a ribbon of natural areas, wild havens, green bridges and cycle ways could be created along the corridor of the HS2 route. Initial costings suggest that environmental restoration on this scale could be achieved with less than 1% of HS2’s overall budget of £42bn and a Cost Benefit Analysis undertaken by researchers at Newcastle University show that the benefits of restoring nature and providing access will outweigh the costs.

The Wildlife Trusts believe that and with a much reduced environmental impact, it could be a means to put nature - and people’s access to it - back into areas of lowland England where it has been lost – to raise our environmental baseline following decades of decline.
 

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Tagged with: HS2, Park Hall

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