What Environmental NGOs have to say about HS2

The Wildlife Trusts alongside other key environmental NGOs do not object to the development of HS2, but instead, are pressing HS2 Ltd to make decisions based on the best available environmental evidence and to put forward a scheme which is in line with the Natural Environment White Paper’s ambition to restore our natural environment. Here is a summary of each organization’s view on the forward development of HS2:

The Wildlife Trusts

“Sustainable transport systems must not be achieved at the expense of the natural environment”

The Wildlife Trusts fully support the principles of sustainable development - including the need for efficient and sustainable transport systems and the need to move to a low carbon economy. However, this must not be achieved at the expense of the natural environment.

The Wildlife Trusts feel that the former Government’s policy document on High Speed Rail (March 2010) significantly underestimated the impact of the proposed route on the natural environment, while its Appraisal of Sustainability seriously underestimates the environmental mitigation and compensation costs and opportunities.

Before pursuing either the currently proposed route, or any other high speed rail routes, The Wildlife Trusts are calling on the government to complete a much fuller and more in-depth analysis of the environmental impact of a new rail link.

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The Woodland Trust

“The proposed rail link should not be built at the expense of our natural heritage”

While not against HS2 in principle, The Woodland Trust is yet to be convinced that the proposed rail route by the Government is as green as it claims. The Woodland Trust echoes the concerns of many people over HS2's potential environmental impact, with its focus on the high level of loss and damage that would be caused to ancient woodland along the route – currently at least 84 ancient woods face loss or damage.

It is campaigning to protect this irreplaceable habitat and to highlight that no amount of new tree planting, although essential to mitigate the impact of HS2 itself, will ever create woodland with the same ecological value as ancient woodland.

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The Ramblers

“We hope opportunities for enhancement and gain won’t be missed”

The Ramblers generally supports improvements to public transport and believe that a push for a new railway is more environmental friendly than developing new roads. But, like other supporters of the Campaign to Protect Rural England's 'Right Lines Charter', the organisation is unsure that the Government has proved the case for HS2 as the best way forward and is concerned for the effects HS2 will have both on ecology, environment and public rights of way.

The Ramblers are not confident that HS2 Ltd. has the means to guarantee the stability (by bridges, underpasses and sensible and acceptable diversions to convenient crossing points) of all the paths which will otherwise be severed by the route.

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The National Trust

“Plans outlined in the Environment Statement do not provide an adequate solution to the noise, landscape and cultural heritage impacts from the railway" 

Whilst The National Trust have not opposed HS2 in principle, the organisation is opposed to the route of phase one, from London to Birmingham due to its impact on the nationally designated Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Rather than campaigning against the development of HS2, The National Trust has called on the government to ask for the best possible mitigation for the route.

The National Trust feels that plans outlined in the HS2 Phase on Formal Environment Statement do not provide an adequate solution to the noise, landscape and cultural heritage impacts from the railway.

Read here for more information 

Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE)

“There is still much more to be done”

The CPRE welcomes the Government's commitment to invest in rail rather than seeking to promote new roads or air travel, but feel that there is a long way to go before they can be sure that the High Speed 2 (HS2) will not have an unacceptable impact on the landscape and local communities.

Overall, CPRE wants to see HS2 and broader government policy changed so that there is a better protection of the landscape, its character and tranquillity.

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The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)

“The Environmental Statement seriously misrepresents the impact of HS2 on biodiversity”

The RSPB in principle supports the High Speed Rail as a low-carbon alternative to road-building or airport expansion, but feels that its impact on wildlife, landscapes and communities should be of utmost importance.

Overall, the RSPB feels that the HS2’s Environmental Statement seriously misrepresents the impact of HS2 on biodiversity. In light of this, the RSPB cannot support HS2 without clear evidence that its impact on the natural environment will be properly mitigated and unavoidable impacts fully compensated for.

Read here for more information