HS2 Routes and Phases

Phase 1: London to Birmingham

Last year, HS2 Ltd consulted on their 55,000 page Environmental Statement for Phase 1. The Wildlife Trusts believe that this does not reflect the route-wide environmental impacts and is so seriously deficient as to be inadequate. Despite the stated intent of HS2 Ltd that the development should result in ‘no net loss to biodiversity’, based on the incomplete evidence presented in the Environmental Statement, we believe the consequence of building HS2 Phase 1 will be a net loss of biodiversity. It will fragment populations of butterflies, bats and birds, and compromise the natural movements of large mammals such as badgers that cannot cross the concrete and steel barrier of railway infrastructure. Read more on the impact of HS2 on wildlife.

Seven Sites of Special Scientific Interest (the very best of our wild places), three Wildlife Trust nature reserves, 66 Local Wildlife Sites and 25 proposed Local Wildlife Sites are all directly affected and will be damaged or destroyed by the line for Phase 1. A further 92 wildlife sites are indirectly affected.

We welcomed the Environmental Audit Select Committee report 'HS2 and the environment' published in April 2014. It's headline findings were:

  • The Government should aim higher than the objective of no net biodiversity loss.
  • HS2 Ltd must carry out environmental surveys as much as possible of the 40% of the route yet to be examined.
  • Government should reconsider its requirement for biodiversity compensation to be provided directly alongside the HS2 route, to take opportunities for better offsetting measures further afield.
  • There should be a ring-fenced environmental budget

The Phase 1 Hybrid Bill was introduced to Parliament on 25 November 2013 and had the Second Reading on Monday 28 April 2014. The purpose of the Second Reading is for the Commons to approve (or reject) the principle of the Bill. Following the Second Reading, all those directly or specially affected by the first phase of HS2 were able to submit petitions against the Bill on issues agreed during the Second Reading. The Wildlife Trusts submitted a petition against the Bill. Since then a specifically formed Select Committee of six MPs have been hearing from petitioners. So far, they have heard from Staffordshire Wildlife Trust and Warwickshire Wildlife Trust. The Wildlife Trusts are appearing before the Select Committee on Monday 16 March 2015.

Phase 2: Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds

Three SSSIs, six Wildlife Trust nature reserves, 87 Local Wildlife Sites and 17 proposed Local Wildlife Sites are all directly affected and will be damaged or destroyed by the proposed route for Phase 2. A further 245 sites are indirectly affected.

The consultation on the preferred route closed at the end of January 2014. The Wildlife Trusts believe that the approach adopted by the Department for Transport / HS2 Ltd:

  • Will result in an unacceptable level of loss or damage to existing wildlife assets by constructing the ‘preferred’ route
  • Compromises existing initiatives and future options to safeguard our natural heritage

We are expecting a Government announcement about the final route later this year.