Plans to assess impact of HS2 inadequate

Wednesday 30 May 2012

The Government’s draft plans to assess the environmental impact of the proposed High Speed 2 rail line have been strongly criticised by the Chilterns Conservation Board.

The HS2 route crosses the Chilterns AONB for over 20km and will have a very damaging impact on the natural beauty of the Chilterns and its enjoyment by the public. It is also highly likely to have significant and damaging impacts on the communities and economy of the area.

The Board strongly opposes HS2 on the grounds that it is not convinced of the arguments for the claimed national benefits and because of the significant adverse environmental impacts.  Those impacts have not been adequately incorporated in the business plan or design.

The Government is planning to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the HS2 route between London and Birmingham and will be publishing an Environmental Statement next year which should describe all the impacts and the proposed mitigation of them. As an official consultee the Board has sent a detailed response on the initial plans for the EIA, including the following comments:

  • The HS2 scheme should be subject to a full Strategic Environmental Assessment of all options, rather than an EIA of one route option.
  • The planned EIA is not broad-ranging or rigorous enough for a scheme of the size and potential impact of HS2.
  • The measures of environmental impact put forward are not clear.
  • Not enough time has been allowed to carry out a full and proper EIA. For example, there is only time for one season’s surveying of wildlife along the route, which is insufficient to build a complete picture of all the species which will be affected. For such a huge project the Government must allow enough time to gather and analyse all necessary information on the environmental impacts.

In line with the Government’s stated intention for HS2 to be a world-leading railway it needs to ensure it is based on the highest possible standards. The shortcomings of the draft scoping report on the EIA suggest the Environmental Statement itself will be inadequate.

Based on the information provided it is not possible for the public and the many stakeholder organisations to assess adequately what the likely significant environmental impacts of HS2 will be.

You can read the Conservation Board's detailed comments on the EIA Scope and Methodology Report for HS2 in the Environmental Impact Assessment section of the Maps and Documents page.



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