The proposed high-speed rail link High Speed 2 (HS2) has prompted tough questions about how we plan our future transport needs in a way that confronts the climate and biodiversity crises.
The RSPB is part of a coalition of environmental organisations (Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, the Wildlife Trusts, Woodland Trust, WWF, ClientEarth and The Ramblers) calling on the Government to rethink HS2, the high-speed rail link that is planned to connect London to Birmingham and ultimately Manchester and Leeds.
This call comes amid growing concerns about the cost of HS2. The Prime Minister has commissioned an independent review of its business case to report by the end of 2019. We urge him to factor in the environmental cost of HS2, not just the financial cost.
HS2 is being planned in two phases between London, the West Midlands and the north of England. Phase 1 from London to the Midlands is in the early stages of construction. Phase 2 (the so-called 'Y-shaped network') is being brought forward in two sub-phases: 2a (West Midlands to Crewe) is being considered by the Houses of Parliament as a hybrid bill; Phase 2b (Crewe to Manchester and West Midlands to Leeds) is preparing its environmental statement prior to its hybrid bill being brought forward to Parliament.
At a time of increasing concern about the impacts our travel choices have on greenhouse gas emissions and climate, it is important that the advantages claimed for this expensive project are rigorously examined. It's also important that the impacts this proposal will have on wildlife, landscapes and communities along the route are properly understood and taken into account in deciding whether paying the price for HS2 is really worth it.