I do appreciate the importance of ensuring that HS2 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. As matters stand, 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.
However, as you may be aware, Ministers have launched an independent review of HS2, which will also consider HS2’s environmental benefits, in particular for carbon reduction in line with net zero commitments. It is encouraging that the review will be led by Douglas Oakervee, who has considerable experience of major projects over a 60-year career. Moreover, a panel of experts will support their work, bringing together a variety of perspectives from the worlds of business and academia, as well as the transport sector. I am confident that this will help ensure the review is independent, in-depth and objective.
Through thorough analysis of evidence, the review will look into whether and how HS2 should go forward. It will consider HS2’s benefits and impacts, affordability and efficiency, deliverability and scope, as well as it’s phasing, including its relationship with Northern Powerhouse Rail.
The review will offer clear advice on the future of HS2 to the Government in the autumn, and it will inform how the project proceeds. It is important to note that in the meantime, limited work on the project will continue.