We cautiously welcome the HS2 Community and Environment Fund and the Business and Local Economy Fund announced by the Department for Transport today.
A sum of £30 million is to be made available for residents and local communities between London and Birmingham to “invest in project projects such as the refurbishment of local community centres, nature conservation and measures to support local economies and employment.”
The National Trust has asked for such a fund to be created drawing on inspiration from the HS1 a ‘Rail Link Countryside Initiative’, which had an initial funding of £2m from Channel Tunnel Rail Link and was run as an independent charity to promote, support, co-ordinate and encourage projects that enhance the landscape, ecology and heritage of the area affected by HS1.
It is disappointing however that the funds announced today represent less than 0.1% of the overall budget of HS2 and no calculations have been offered to determine the size of these funds. This was an opportunity for Government to recognise that communities along the route will suffer from the construction and operation HS2 without any of the benefits.
It is important that any funds are locally administered and administered to communities in proportion to impacts suffered from HS2. The funds must also be entirely separate from mitigation, offsetting and compensation included in the Hybrid Bill as a direct consequence of HS2.
We have been working with Buckinghamshire County Council, Chilterns Conservation Board and Berkshire Buckinghamshire Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust on how such a fund could be calculated and how it might distribute funds. We would encourage New Philanthropy Capital to work with us as well as HS2 Ltd to ensure the funds are delivered in the most effective way possible.