New infrastructure projects are likely to be a major component of our economic recovery post-Covid. Done well, they can leave nature and communities better than they were before. But when done badly, the damage can scar wildlife, people and places for generations.
The RSPB engages with infrastructure projects likely to impact nature, and draws on decades of experience to advise how best to minimise damage and maximise benefits for nature. This is exactly what we did with HS2.
After many years working with HS2 Ltd we had to conclude last summer that the scheme had strayed too far from good practice, and voiced our opposition. When the UK Govt decided earlier this year to proceed, along with the wild claim that it will be an environmentally leading scheme, we wrote to DfT outlining the changes to the scheme required to meet that rhetoric. Soon after the country went into lockdown, so initially it wasn’t a surprise when we didn’t hear back.
Last month we wrote once more to DfT, making it clear we’d inform you, our supporters, if we had no reply. You can read the letter for yourself in the link below. We’ve had no response, so we can only conclude that there’s no intention to improve the plans to match the rhetoric.
Let us be clear – HS2 is a bad example of balancing nature and infrastructure. With nature and green spaces being more important to people than ever before, future infrastructure projects must do much more to ensure the recovery of our natural environment alongside our economy.
To our supporters, thank you for all you are doing. To the Government we continue to ask you to stop ignoring the environmental damage HS2 is already doing and will continue to do if it carries on its current track. It’s not too late to make HS2 better for nature, but it soon will be unless you do something about it now.
Here's what we originally sent: http://bit.ly/dfths2letter
You can read our follow-up letter by clicking here.
Residents along the HS2 route can also report any concerns they have around the actions of HS2 contractors in the field here: https://bit.ly/reportahs2threat
The destruction already wrought is beyond repair. One thing this pandemic has shown is that the future is not fast trains for face-to-face meetings but electronic face-to-face meetings. HS2 is not a white elephant: it is the destruction of any claims to environmental competence / awareness this government likes to make.