Thank you for contacting me about the environmental impact of HS2.
In my opinion, HS2 is a vital project for the UK. It will increase capacity on our congested railways, improve connections between our biggest cities and regions, and generate jobs, skills and economic growth. With destinations including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, and Crewe, HS2 is expected to relieve pressure on the East and West Coast mainlines by offering fast, direct services between major cities on new and improved lines.
Ensuring that the project strikes the right balance between the needs of affected communities and the environment, and the long-term needs of the country as a whole is essential. HS2 Ltd's Sustainability Policy commits to the protection of the environment through seeking to avoid significant adverse effects on communities, businesses and the environment, including the prevention of pollution.
The policy also commits to minimising impacts where they occur, and delivering enhancements as far as reasonably practicable to attain no net loss to the natural environment. I am pleased that a green corridor is being created alongside the railway, including the planting of seven million new trees and shrubs along the Phase One route from London to the West Midlands.
The Government is also committed to providing support for local communities whilst HS2 is constructed, first along the Phase One route. An overall £70 million funding package has been made available which will help enhance community facilities, improve access to the countryside, and help improve road and cycle safety in towns and villages along the HS2 Phase One route. It will support local economies where businesses may experience disruption from the construction of the line.
A five-volume Environment Statement for phase 2a of HS2 (West Midlands to Crewe) has been produced following detailed assessments. It sets out how the environmental impact of constructing this stage of the line will be mitigated. As regards Phase 2b (Crewe to Manchester and Leeds), a consultation has taken place on the Working Draft Environment Statement. A summary of the responses has been published, and this will further inform the development of the Phase 2b route and Environment Statement.
Additionally, archaeologists have begun exploring over 10,000 years of history through excavations along the 150 mile Phase One route from London to the West Midlands. This archaeology project is Europe's largest, and the largest ever in Britain, with 60 sites along the Phase One route identified for work.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.