Reply from Will Quince to email on HS2, 19/09/20

Re: HS2 & the Environment

Thank you for contacting me about HS2 and the environment.

On the recommendation of the independent Oakervee review commissioned last year, the Prime Minister gave the go ahead to HS2, alongside major improvements to local transport networks up and down the country. I welcome that, at a time when the construction sector faces uncertainty during the coronavirus outbreak, the Government’s subsequent decision to authorise ‘Notice to Proceed’ for Phase One has provided certainty for construction companies, communities along the route, and the wider UK supply chain supporting this transformational project.

HS2 will play an important role in the UK’s transition to a net-zero carbon economy by 2050. I understand that HS2 will offer some of the lowest carbon emissions per passenger km, seven times less than passenger cars and 17 times less than domestic air travel in 2030. Indeed, HS2 is expected to help reduce the number of cars and lorries on the road and cut demand for domestic flights.

It is estimated that the total carbon emissions produced by both constructing and operating Phase One for 120 years would be the same as just one month of the UK’s road network.

I am also pleased that a green corridor will be created alongside the railway. This will involve the planting of seven million new trees and shrubs, including over 40 native species, along the Phase One route from London to the West Midlands.

It is welcome too that an overall £70 million funding package has also been made available to 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.

There are approximately 52,000 ancient woodland sites across England, and of these, 43 will be affected by Phases One and 2a of HS2. It is worth noting that more than 80 per cent of the total area of these 43 sites will be untouched by HS2 and remain intact.

I want to reassure you that HS2 is using a combination of approaches to compensate for the ancient woodlands lost during construction. This includes translocation of soil to other woodlands to improve their biodiversity, planting new woodland and restoring existing ancient woodland.

The HS2 Woodland Fund – overseen by the Forestry Commission – funds projects to support the creation, restoration and enhancement of woodland on private land or in partnership with multiple landowners. I understand that the Government has committed £7 million to establishing this Fund, and that the first £1.6 million for Phase One has already been allocated to supporting approximately 115 hectares of new native woodland creation, and the restoration of around 160 hectares of plantations within ancient woodland sites.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me

Kind regards,

Will Quince MP

Member of Parliament for Colchester.