The Countryside Alliance welcomes the Environmental Audit Committee’s recommendations in its report published today (7 April) and agrees that “everything possible is done to minimise damage to ancient woodlands and SSSIs by the HS2 high-speed rail line and that where loss is genuinely unavoidable, that compensation is applied to the fullest extent possible”.
However, we still believe that the business and environmental cases for HS2 have not adequately been made and continue to oppose the project on behalf of our members.
Countryside Alliance head of policy, Sarah Lee, said: “This is a hugely expensive project and could have a devastating impact on Britain’s countryside and the lives of the hundreds of thousands of people living along the proposed route. To justify this investment and the damage to lives and landscape HS2 must offer exceptional benefits, and we do not believe the case for it has yet been proved.
“We are very concerned to learn that 40% of the land that will be used for HS2 has still not been surveyed, so the environmental impact of the scheme cannot be fully assessed. It would appear that the Government has given the green light to this scheme without full consideration of the effects it will have.”
The HS2 Hybrid Bill will be given its second reading in the House of Commons on 28 April, and then referred to a dedicated select committee to examine petitions against it.
The Countryside Alliance requests that unless clear and outstanding benefits of this scheme can be identified it should not go ahead.