High Speed 2 (HS2) should not get a green light from the Prime Minister in its current form. The financial costs of the project are under intense scrutiny, but so should the huge impact on the natural environment. It will be far too damaging to hundreds of important wild places and the nature that depends on them.
The recent report from The Wildlife Trusts shows that if allowed to continue unchanged, HS2 will risk damaging or destroying irreplaceable habitats such as internationally important wetlands, ancient woods, meadows and Sites of Special Scientific Interest that are supposed to be protected under UK law. Once lost, they will be gone forever.
Large areas of land that have already been restored using public money will also be at risk. Scientists say that nature is in deep trouble in the UK; the HS2 project threatens to be a severe setback to the great efforts being made to restore it. It is not just wildlife that will lose out – people will too. Many of the wild places at risk are treasured by locals who value the connection these provide to the natural world and the increased health and happiness they bring.
Green transport is vital but the climate emergency will not be solved by making the nature crisis worse. The two are inextricably linked. We urge the Government to stop and rethink this project. The impact on the natural environment must be properly assessed and the proposals fully reviewed. Major infrastructure projects should seek to boost the natural world, not put it further at risk. Nature need not pay a price for HS2.
NGO Chief Executives
Hilary McGrady, Director-General, National Trust
Patience Thody, Acting CEO, The Wildlife Trusts
Beccy Speight, Chief Executive, RSPB
Craig Bennett, CEO, Friends of the Earth
Tanya Steele, Chief Executive, WWF
Darren Moorcroft, CEO, Woodland Trust
John Sauven, Executive Director, Greenpeace
Matt Shardlow, Chief Executive, Buglife
Julie Williams, Chief Executive, Butterfly Conservation
Ambassadors and supporters
Chris Packham, Naturalist and TV Presenter
Chris Baines, Naturalist and Vice President of The Wildlife Trusts
Sir Robert Worcester KBE DL, Vice President of The Wildlife Trusts
Julian Pettifer, Vice President of The Wildlife Trusts
Sophie Pavelle, Zoologist & Science Communicator
Dr Amir Khan, GP and Presenter, GPs Behind Closed Doors
David Oakes, Actor and Host of Trees a Crowd Podcast
Ceallach Spellman, Actor and Presenter
Amy Jane Beer, Biologist and writer
Melissa Harrison, Author
Abi Elphinstone, Author
Yussef Rafik, Zoologist and wildlife presenter