National Trust reaction to Environmental Audit Committee report on HS2 and the Environment

Peter Nixon, Director of Land, Landscape & Nature, said: “We’re pleased that the Environmental Audit Committee has listened to the environmental concerns raised during this inquiry. The evidence we submitted called for HS2 Ltd to aim fora net gain for biodiversity, for independent review of overlapping assessments of impact and for a technical dispute resolution method.

“As a conservation organisation that cares about wildlife we are concerned about the effectiveness of some of the proposed ecological measures, the efficacy of habitat relocation around the route, the baseline data and the vagueness of some of the proposals. The Government’s actions here must be based on sound scientific evidence.

“We also welcome continued monitoring of the environmental implications from HS2 and a separate mitigation and compensation budget. It’s vital that concerns are properly heard, that the impacts of the railway are properly addressed and that the best solutions are found for the people and places affected. HS2 mustn’t end up cutting corners at the expense of the environment.”

HS2: Hybrid Bill

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.

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National Trust statement in response to today’s announcement by Right Hon Patrick McLoughlin, Secretary of State for Transport, on the Government’s preferred route for phase 2, or Y of HS2

Peter Nixon, National Trust Director of Conservation, said:

“It is not for the National Trust to comment on whether HS2 is required. We are, however, opposed to the route chosen for the high speed rail link up to Leeds and Manchester where it impacts directly the Hardwick Estate near Chesterfield, Derbyshire.

“We are also concerned about potential indirect impacts on Calke Abbey near Derby, Staunton Harold Church in Leicestershire, Nostell Priory near Wakefield on the eastern side of the Y route. The western link could have impacts on Shugborough near Stafford, Dunham Massey near Altrincham and Tatton Park near Knutsford. We will be looking closely at the details published today to assess the impacts.

“Although opposed to the route our intention is to engage as widely as possible, with the Department for Transport, HS2 Ltd, as well as local and regional stakeholders and communities.

“This is the approach we have adopted on phase 1 between London and Birmingham. We believe it is the most effective way of ensuring the scheme is the best it can possibly be in respect of its final alignment and in terms of agreeing high quality design and mitigation standards.”

For more information please contact:

Steve Field, 07824 544201, Stephen.field@nationaltrust.org.uk

Claire Graves, 07770 645230, Claire.graves@nationaltrust.org.uk

For details of the National Trust approach to phase 1 of HS2, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hs2

The National Trust looks after more than 250,000 hectares of countryside, 710 miles of coastline and hundreds of historic places across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. For more information and ideas for great value family days out go to: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/

National Trust reveals vision for HS2 around Aylesbury

Proposals for an improved design for HS2 around Aylesbury, if it goes ahead, have been revealed by the National Trust today.

Whilst being neutral over the principle of HS2, the National Trust opposes the specific proposed route in the Aylesbury area and through the Chilterns AONB.

This is because of its landscape and other impacts, especially on Hartwell House, where it would require the acquisition of the Trust’s land.

The plans revealed today show how the impact on hundreds of people’s lives and the special places they care about could be reduced if HS2 Ltd plans for mitigation on a big enough scale.

This would include acquiring additional land either side of the railway line to give room for the necessary landscaping and other measures, such as creating a 600m long ’land bridge’ for the route as it crosses through the Hartwell House estate and next to Fairford Leys – where many local people will be heavily affected by the railway.

This would involve building the land up on either side of the line, then placing a lid on top, with vegetation and tree planting covering it. Wide, landscaped embankments which would screen trains and conceal noise barriers and security fencing also feature.

A range of specialist consultants, including experts in rail engineering, landscape character, landscape architecture, noise and hydrology have been brought in by the National Trust to advise on the best possible mitigation over an 8km stretch of the line from Stoke Mandeville, around Aylesbury and up to Waddesdon.

Since the route for HS2 was published in January this year, the Trust has been talking to local authorities, parish councils, landowners, other charities and organisations, as well as HS2 Ltd, aiming for proposals which take into account the views of as many people as possible who are affected by the line.

Peter Nixon, director of conservation for the National Trust, said: “Although HS2 is still not a foregone conclusion, and we object to the route chosen, in case it does go ahead it’s sensible for us to negotiate for the best scheme which minimises its impact for as many people as possible and on the special places they care about.

“We hope our proposals, which draw on our practical experience elsewhere, raise expectations of what could be achieved.

“There is still a lot of detail to work up. This would have to be done with HS2 Ltd, the community, local authorities and landowners and we believe a collaborative approach here will deliver the best scheme if HS2 does go ahead.

“We hope that HS2 Ltd and the Government will adopt this scheme, however we have also been clear that if this is not the case we would be prepared to petition Parliament in order to try and get the scheme included in the necessary legislation.”

The current proposed route of HS2 will pass directly through the Hartwell House estate which has an international history and significance stretching back almost a thousand years to the reign of Edward the Confessor.

It also passes within view of Coombe Hill in the Chilterns; through the Waddesdon Estate which has a Victorian garden thought to be one of best in Britain; and close to Claydon House, once home to Florence Nightingale.

The scheme has already received backing from a number of local groups.

Councillor Steven Lambert, Chairman of Coldharbour Parish Council, said: “While we continue to oppose HS2 and support the need for a Judicial Review of it, we are pleased the National Trust has been pushing for proper mitigation around Aylesbury if HS2 is to go ahead. The needs of local people and our local environment need to be given equal weighting to any perceived economic benefits of a final scheme.

“We’ve been in discussion with the National Trust from an early stage on their thinking about HS2 in our area and we think this scheme would provide ample noise and visual intrusion mitigation for both sides of the track and opportunities for increased access to a new green space.”
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The plans also include the provision of new flood meadow habitiats, improved recreational areas and more access to the countryside for the people of Aylesbury.

For more information see www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hs2

To see more of the proposals visit: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/jvz46q1k39tu54s/Bo67mPaTUr