Birmingham Friends of the Earth has been analysing the High Speed Rail (HS2) Project for some time. The consultation on this by the Department for Transport has now started.

Friends of the Earth nationally has now signed up to a Charter, entiled the ‘Right Lines Charter’, to challenge the Government to get the project on to the right lines. This Charter has been produced with a number of other national campaign groups including: Campaign for Better Transport, Campaign to Protect Rural England, The Chiltern Society, Civic Voice, Environmental Law Foundation, Greenpeace, RSPB, The Wildlife Trusts, and Woodland Trusts. It is hoped our inputs will ensure HS2, if built, will deliver an efficient, sustainable transport system which reduces the damaging impact of travel on the environment. The Charter sets out 4 main principles for doing HS2 well.

1. A national transport strategy – HIgh Speed Rail Proposals need to be set in the context of a long term transport strategy and national framework. For example reducing the need to travel, improving rail capacity and connectivity across the country, tackling carbon emissions from land transport. 

2. A better future proofing of big transport proposals– HS2 needs to be future proofed by comprehensive testing against different scenarios therefore enabling best solutions for sustainable development to be identified.

3. Public participation – public involvement in HS2 is essential to reduce opposition, and provide a better design and delivery of the project. 

4. Minimising adverse impacts – HS2 proposals need to be designed from the start to avoid adverse impacts on the environment, cultural heritage and local communities during construction and operation. Environmental limits should be respected. 

At present we believe the Government falls well short of the Charter’s principles and we seek to achieve the best long term outcome for high speed rail for the country, communities, climate and countryside. 

Andy Atkins, Executive Director of the Friends of the Earth, commented on HS2 stating: “Carbon emissions from UK transport must be urgently cut – but the current High Speed Rail proposals will do little, if anything, to help. The majority of journeys are relatively short, so the Government’s top priority should be to cut emissions from these trips. This means action to encourage greener travel and measures to reduce the need to travel for work or essential services.” Further comments can be read on this article: