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    October’s Agenda

    Following the government's announcement of an independent review into HS2, what potential do you think the project has?

    A recent independent review into High Speed 2, more commonly known as HS2, could see the project being pushed back many years along with a budget increase of approximately £22bn.

    The London Euston and Birmingham line has been reportedly been delayed by five years with the Northern section covering Manchester and Leeds being pushed back by seven.

    The proposal states that train, capable of reaching up to 250mph, will provide over 1,00 seats for passengers with journey times being reduced and thousands of jobs being created.

    On the flip side the project has received some backlash when it comes to the environmental impacts. It has been reported that at least 108 ancient woodlands will be subjected to destruction with damage being done to 12 highly protected areas for nature conservation. We asked members of the industry what they thought.

    Robert Crowder, chairman Crowders Nurseries

    At this stage of major infrastructure project, questions are always raised about whether the taxpayer is getting value for money. It is not just about increasing capacity and speeding up journey times on the rail network, although this is badly needed. I think it is important to consider the wider benefits of urban regeneration that this project also brings, particularly around Euston in London and Curzon Street in Birmingham for Phase 1 and the major cities of the north in Phase 2.

    We’re building the infrastructure needed for future generations and a growing population. Our Victorian rail network is totally inadequate and when compared with other European countries we are way behind.

    The benefits for the landscape industry are huge. Our contract for the supply of 7m trees and plants for Phase 1 is only part of the story as many additional planting, landscaping and environmental improvement schemes will result from the secondary developments along the route as well as the urban regeneration already mentioned.

    Adam Cormack, Head of campaigning, Woodland Trust

    Here at the Woodland Trust we’re all for green transport. There is a drastic need to decarbonise our economy, but any scheme that rides roughshod over the environment and destroys the irreplaceable ancient woodlands that make up our landscape cannot truly be called green.

    As it stands, we are going to lose almost 60ha of this precious habitat to HS2. Some 108 ancient woods will be destroyed or damaged, and the loss of these centuries-old sites will be catastrophic for the environment. Not only will we lose the woods, but the many species of flora, fauna and fungi which rely on it for survival are at risk too. Rare birds such as the lesser spotted woodpecker, the willow tit and the wood warbler, bats, butterflies, dormice, otters, badgers and hedgehogs are all threatened.

    Noel Farrer, Director, Farrer Huxley

    I believe that the best way for the government to benefit everyone in the society it governs is through direct investment in infrastructure that is delivered utilising UK based (local) supply chains wherever possible. It distributes wealth, provides jobs and benefits people more than any other form of investment.  HS2 like the Elizabeth Line has multiple benefits way beyond the line itself.  These projects benefit society for many generations and value for money is guaranteed when viewed in the context of the ultimate benefit. Cost scrutiny is of course necessary and right but maximising the value through the highest possible quality will serve to maximise the benefit for the longest time and at the lowest environmental impact. I whole heartedly support HS2.  I will withdraw this support should the project cut corners or quality is compromised.

    Richard Moore, Botanical Horticulturalist, Kew Gardens

    I’m very happy to hear that there will be a review of the HS2 project. I personally don’t want it to go ahead for a number of reasons. Firstly, there is the negative impact the trainline will have on the environment. Having grown up in the West Midlands and Warwickshire, I know very well some of the beautiful areas of woodland and countryside which will be lot either directly or indirectly by this project.

    From an ecological point of view, I feel it would have a very negative effect by cutting off vital ecological links between different habitats as well as directly destroying habitats and areas of ancient woodland that cannot be replaced or mitigated. I hope that the review of the project will bring to light the fact that the financial benefits of providing such transport links are insignificant compared with the importance of the natural environment which is so often overlooked.

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