How was it for you?

Sustainable development (part 4)

So what has the man on the Clapham omnibus gained for the shedloads of his tax money that must have been spent to produce the Appraisal of Sustainability Main Report?

On the positive side, the document does contain some useful undertakings from HS2 Ltd on the way that it will design and construct HS2 to minimise environmental and social impacts. Hopefully, they will remember these undertakings when the time comes. There I think the positives end.

Overall, it is difficult to see this piece of work as anything other than a “box ticking” exercise that is necessary in order to comply with the requirements of Securing the Future. The fact that what has come out of this exercise as the “best choice” is a largely greenfield solution that tears through the countryside, with very limited capability to be diverted in order to avoid sensitive areas, illustrates this point.

No attempt has been made to assess alternative solutions that do not involve building a new high speed railway for sustainability and to compare these with HS2.

The failure to examine the effects of the choice of design speed on sustainability is a significant omission. This parameter will have major impacts on several of the thirty-three key issues that I covered in my 22 Mar blog, such as greenhouse gas emissions, landscape effects, cultural heritage effects and noise.

I have a suggestion for those of you that like pleasant diversions with which the odd free hour can be filled. Make a copy of Table 1 on pages 12 and 13 of the Appraisal of Sustainability: Non Technical Summary. Do your own scoring of the HS2 proposal against the thirty-three key issues listed in the table and see how you think it fares.

I know what I think and will tell you in the next blog.


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