Government asked to spend £420m on HS2 wildlife restoration

A new report has recommended the UK government spend an additional £420 million on wildlife restoration along the route of HS2 to mitigate the high-speed line’s environmental impact.

Ahead of the HS2 Hybrid Bill’s second reading next week, The Wildlife Trust has published a report urging the government to pursue a more ambitious programme of wildlife protection and restoration during the construction of Britain’s new £42.6 billion rail system.

Research carried out by Newcastle University has estimated that a ‘ribbon of natural areas’ along the route could be delivered for around £420 million.

The Wildlife Trust believes that the preferred HS2 route will impact on around 500 wildlife sites, including areas of Special Scientific Interest, ancient woodland and nature reserves.

The Wildlife Trusts’ director of England, Stephen Trotter, said: “Currently, people and nature stand to lose if HS2 goes ahead which is why our opposition to the proposed route for HS2 remains.

“Like other affected groups, we will be petitioning against it. The government needs to act now to set out an ambitious plan for restoring nature along the length of the route, if construction goes ahead, otherwise the environmental impacts will not be satisfactorily mitigated.

“The greener vision for HS2 that we have published today shows that it would be feasible to create around 15,000 hectares of new, interlinked wild places established along the entire length of the route that people can walk, cycle through and enjoy, ultimately providing a ‘net gain’ for wildlife.”

Stephen Trotter added: “HS2 would be England’s biggest infrastructure project in modern times so, if it goes ahead, we think it should be implemented alongside England’s biggest nature restoration project.”