Rail (UK)

HS2 counters Greens’ environmen­tal damage claims

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HS2 Ltd has rebutted claims made by Green Party co-leader Sian Berry, on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on February 7, about the project’s environmen­tal impact.

Responding to Berry’s claims that HS2 is “attacking the ancient woodlands, going through sensitive landscapes”, HS2 tweeted that just 42 of Britain’s 52,000 ancient woodland sites will be affected by the railway, and that 80% of the area covered by those woodlands would remain intact and untouched.

It also highlighte­d the fact that HS2 is creating 33 square kilometres of new woodland and wildlife habitat. This equates to an area more than seven times bigger than the Sherwood Forest nature reserve, and an increase of around 30% compared with habitat on and around the route now.

On claims that its speed is excessive, HS2 argues that the speed is integral for the benefits the railway will bring.

It also dismissed claims that the railway bypasses city centres, as HS2 trains will call at stations in the centre of London, Birmingham, Crewe, Manchester, Sheffield and Leeds. On both the new line and the convention­al network, HS2 will serve more than 25 stations and connect population­s of 30 million.

HS2 added that its budget is spread over 30 years and is less than the current annual roads and rail budgets, and that an

HS2 journey will emit 17 times less carbon than the equivalent domestic flight and seven times less than a car journey.

The Phase 1 constructi­on and operation carbon footprint, over 120 years, will emit less carbon than the road network does in a month.

The company also highlighte­d a quote from a House of

Lords Committee, which said the railway’s ability to avoid irreplacea­ble habitats was a “remarkable achievemen­t”.

On February 11, HS2 Ltd did confirm that some 9.8 hectares of ancient woodland will be lost as a result of HS2 Phase 2a.

However, 78 hectares of native broadleave­d woodland will be planted during the constructi­on. This is expected to supplement more than 13.5 hectares of existing ancient woodland.

Following approval of the line to Crewe, £7 million is available via the Community & Environmen­t Fund, of which £2m is for biodiversi­ty improvemen­ts.

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