Open Letter from the Wildlife Trusts on HS2

I signed this open letter today:

Rt Hon Mark Harper MP and Rt Hon Thérèse Coffey MP

Dear Secretaries of State,

An urgent call to address new evidence of ecological assessment errors by HS2 Ltd

We write collectively to bring a new report to your attention which shows that the environmental cost of HS2 is far higher, and more serious, than HS2 Ltd has claimed.

We know you will both find this state of affairs unacceptable. However, we believe it is still possible to prevent more ecosystem damage, to limit the further destruction by HS2 of important habitats and to also ensure best use of taxpayers’ money.

Please work together using your respective powers to oblige HS2 Ltd to:

  • Re-map existing habitats along Phases 1 and 2a, correcting mapping errors, applying the correct nature values to habitats, and ensuring no habitats are excluded.
  • Re-calculate the total impacts to nature, by using an up to date and proven methodology, such as one directly comparable to the government’s current Biodiversity Metric 3.1. If changes to the methodology are made these should be transparent and evidence based. It is critical that HS2 Ltd ensure all data is made publicly available at the point the figures are released to facilitate transparency and enable independent scrutiny.
  • Immediately pause all construction and enabling works and halt the passage of the Phase 2b Hybrid Bill while these latest audit findings are assessed by the Government.
  • Change the scheme’s design and delivery to limit the adverse impacts and enhance biodiversity in a way that is commensurate with the scale of the damage i.e. by achieving a minimum 10% biodiversity net gain for replaceable habitats for each phase of the scheme.

An immediate pause on Phase 1 construction and on the advancement of the HS2 Phase 2a: High Speed Rail (West Midlands to Crewe) Act 2021, are both imperative.

These steps must be taken immediately if the UK Government is to deliver a world-leading national infrastructure project that supports nature’s recovery, as was promised. Inaction would also see the UK Government betray its own commitment to ‘leave the environment in a better state for the next generation’ as well as negate recent global commitments made at COP27 and at COP15 that are designed to achieve the Government’s aim of seeing 30% of our land and sea protected for nature by 2030.

Sign the letter here: