A broad coalition of campaigning groups is launching a new report on high speed rail, setting out what ‘still needs to be done by the Government to meet its commitment to local communities and the environment’.
When the Right Lines Charter, supported by environmental, transport, heritage and legal charities with over 600 combined years of involvement in the planning of major infrastructure, was launched in April 2011, then Secretary of State for Transport Philip Hammond said that:
“These respected organisations…should be assured that the Government is already acting on their points of concern.”
Over half a year later, on the verge of the Government announcing its decision on High Speed 2 (HS2), these organisations are launching a report to set out for the benefit of the new Secretary of State, Justine Greening, what still needs to be done.
Karen Gardham, Campaign Manager for the Right Lines Charter, says:
“The two transport policies the Government is clear about are that they want high speed rail, but they do not want a third runway at Heathrow.
“We strongly support the commitment to shifting intercity transport from air and road to rail, but so far HS2 has been developed in a vacuum.
“If HS2 is to meet its environmental or economic potential, it needs to be planned properly within a long-term national transport strategy that cuts carbon.”
Besides setting out the need for such a strategy by 2014, before phase two of HS2 is formally consulted on, the report outlines how changes are needed to the way the future is forecasted and how communities are engaged in consultation on major infrastructure proposals.
It also calls for ‘better recognition and protection of the value of the natural and historic environment’.
The groups are calling for the lessons from previous schemes, such as High Speed 1, to be learned from.
Karen Gardham added: “Justine Greening has shown her environmental credentials and eye for detail during the successful challenge to the third runway at Heathrow.
“Now she has been promoted to run the Department for Transport, we’re hoping she will once again secure the best outcome for communities and the country by improving the planning of High Speed Rail.”