Scoring an own goal

Environmental aspects of the 51m consultation response, part 3

When I blogged about the Appraisal of Sustainability (AoS) earlier in the year I admitted that my comments were based upon the Appraisal of Sustainability: Non Technical Summary as I had not then slogged through the eight hundred plus pages of the full report. If I had done this before writing my blogs, I may have been in a position to point out to you a rather important conclusion that must be drawn from the work that the consultants to HS2 Ltd have carried out. As it is, it was Ian Thynne in his Appendix 13 to the consultation response by the 51m alliance (available here) that alerted me to this conclusion. In Ian’s words “The main issue with the AoS is that it concludes that HS2 is effectively an ‘unsustainable’ project.”

As I have now read the full document I am in a position to confirm Ian’s statement and to explain it.

The methodology that the consultants to HS2 Ltd have used to assess the sustainability of the project is described in section 8.1 on pages 76-77 of Volume 1 of the AoS (available here). The process begins with four “sustainable development priorities” which have been taken from the UK Sustainable Development Strategy document Securing the Future (available here); I first mentioned this document in my blog The impossible dream, which I posted on 14 Mar. The four priorities are identified in section 1.5 on pages 2-3 of Volume 1 of the AoS.

Each of the four priorities has been sub-divided to produce an overall total of eighteen “key sustainability issues”; these are listed in paragraph 8.1 on page 76 of Volume 1 of the AoS. Each of these has been further sub-divided to produce a total of thirty-three “appraisal objectives” and sub-divided again to produce sixty-six “evaluation criteria”.

The appraisal objectives and evaluation criteria are not specifically listed out in Volume 1 of the AoS; to find these you have to go to Volume 2 (available here). Look at the massive “proposed route framework” table in section 2, spanning pages 5 to 34 of Volume 2; the appraisal objectives are listed out in the extreme left-hand column of the table and the evaluation criteria are all in the second column from the left.

This table details the sustainability scoring that the consultants to HS2 Ltd have assigned to each of the evaluation criteria. For most this has been done individually for the same sixteen portions of the route and then an overall rating has been assessed for the whole route, based upon the individual assessments. Where considering individual route sections is not appropriate to the evaluation criterion being assessed, an overall rating only has been given.

The scoring system rates how “supportive” the HS2 proposal is of the evaluation criterion under assessment. A “highly supportive” assessment is indicated by “+ +”, a “supportive” assessment by “+”, an “unsupportive” assessment by “-” and a “highly unsupportive” assessment by “- -“. Two additional ratings are allowed: “0” for neutral; and “U” for unknown.

The “framework summary table” in section 1 of Volume 2 (pages 1 to 4) presents a more compact summary of the assessment.

In the next blog I will look at the scores that have been recorded in the AoS, Ian Thynne’s comments on these scores and why I think that the exercise is a bit of an “own goal” for HS2 Ltd.

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