On Monday 25 November the HS2 Bill had its first reading in the House of Commons. Accompanied by the biggest Environmental Statement in UK history, we have our work cut out to assess it.
To date the 400-page hybrid bill, with an additional 50,000 page Environmental Statement, has received the most criticism for its size. With just 59 days in which to read it, the surrounding media coverage is focusing on campaigners facing a Christmas of trying to get to grips with what the proposal means. Once the one tonne document has been digested, which is set to be a complex task, opponents will have to put together their arguments ready for the consultation.
As a guardian of so many special places across England it is inevitable that the National Trust is affected by the plans set out for HS2. Our places are affected through both phase 1 and phase 2 (to read a full list, click here), so while we haven’t yet been able to digest the full document, Peter Nixon, Director of Conservation for the National Trust, has set out our initial thoughts:
“It is encouraging that the Government has listened to some local concerns in developing the scheme. However, we have two areas of very real worry – the route through the Chilterns AONB, and into the Aylesbury Vale where HS2 passes close to Hartwell House and Aylesbury.
“We’ve a lot more work to do in assessing the details of the proposals and it will be important that the Parliamentary process of the Bill makes sure that the impacts are properly addressed. HS2 is a once in a lifetime project that we can’t afford to get wrong. We must make sure the plans for HS2 don’t end up cutting corners at the expense of the environment.”
We will be forming our full response in the next few weeks in which we will push for the best possible mitigation to minimise impacts on our properties.