A ‘work in progress’: National Trust response to HS2 draft Environmental Statement

Today the High Speed 2 project team submitted what is believed to be the largest public consultation response ever undertaken by the National Trust.Volume 1 - Introduction to the Draft Environmental Statement and the Proposed Scheme-1

At 93 pages the National Trust response to HS2 draft Environmental Statement consultation 10 July 2013 required experts in, landscape, ecology, noise and hydrology amongst other areas, to outline aspects in the document, for phase one of the route from London to Birmingham, that we approve of and gaps that need developing.

Claire Graves, Senior Stakeholder and Project Manager, said: “We acknowledge that this draft Environmental Statement is very much ‘work in progress’, and that this is the first consultation of this kind for an infrastructure scheme of this scale. We are therefore treating this consultation as an opportunity to identify both areas of agreement and areas where more work is required.

“Described as an ‘Engine for Growth’, HS2 is heralded as an exemplar infrastructure project, and as such, it should adopt the highest possible design standards, take the wider landscape into consideration rather than just respond to an engineering need and consider the divisive impacts of a linear structure to people, places and the environment.

“While the formal response focuses most attention on the impact of the line on our properties, their significance and their landscape settings, we have also addressed the impacts of HS2 on wildlife ecology, wider landscapes and people’s ability to enjoy nature.”

The National Trust is committed to ongoing negotiation with HS2 Ltd in advance of the hybrid Bill process. However, we reserve our position whereby we will petition Parliament if the scheme published in the hybrid Bill fails to provide adequate mitigation for the places in our care.

Coombe Hill ©National Trust Images-John Miller

Coombe Hill ©National Trust Images-John Miller

We are neither for nor against the principle of high speed rail, but we are opposed to the route selected for phase 1 of HS2 because of its impacts on the Chilterns AONB, including Trust-owned Coombe Hill, as well as its impacts on our properties Hartwell House, the Waddesdon Estate and Claydon House.

While opposed to the route, we recognise that HS2 may go ahead, so have sought to engage constructively and negotiate to make the scheme the best it can possibly be. Our approach has been to engage with the Department for Transport and HS2 Ltd, and as widely as possible with neighbouring communities and stakeholders, establishing consensus wherever possible on what good mitigation could and should look like.

Check out the animation below to see how we working on HS2 around Aylesbury:

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