This is HS2 Ltd’s advice to government on the outcomes of the review of responses to the consultation regarding the appraisal of sustainability (AoS) for HS2 London to West Midlands. The ‘High speed rail: Investing in Britain’s future’ consultation was launched on 28 February 2011 with a closing date for responses of 29 July 2011. That consultation covered both the government’s strategy for high speed rail, and the line of route for phase one from London to the West Midlands.
This report considers:
- general comments about the approach to environment and sustainability
- energy, greenhouse gas emissions, combating climate change and issues of modal shift in relation to the consultation route
- air quality
- natural and cultural resources: protection and enhancement of the environment in relation to the consultation route
- specific impacts to species and habitats
- community related route impacts
- jobs and regeneration
If a decision is taken to proceed with HS2 London to West Midlands we would undertake a full Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) necessary to accompany the hybrid bill required to authorise the proposals.
The EIA would follow the requirements of the Parliamentary Standing Orders including the development of a scope and methodology for the assessment, the determination of significant environmental effects to be brought before the decision makers through the Parliamentary process and identification of relevant mitigation measures. This would be presented as the project’s Environmental Statement (ES). The process of developing the EIA and mitigation would include a plan of engagement and consultation with local people and relevant authorities. A Statement of Public Participation (SPP) would form part of the ES considered through parliamentary scrutiny.
We have carefully considered the views expressed including criticisms of the AoS in consultation responses. In a number of cases these have identified areas that would require further investigation and the development of mitigation as part of the EIA mentioned above. In a number of locations, in response to issues raised during consultation, we have recommended changes to the line of route to mitigate environmental impacts. These are set out in the Review of possible refinements to the proposed HS2 London to West Midlands Route report.
Consultation responses did not identify an alternative approach that we would consider to be appropriate for the project. Having analysed consultation responses we are confident that the approach we took to examining the impacts on the environment and sustainability through the AoS is an appropriate one for the stage of development of the proposals. We consider our appraisal represents a sound basis on which the Secretary of State can make a decision.)