Community Engagement HS2 Ltd style!

Over the past few weeks I have been busy attending some of the HS2 first phase Draft Environmental Statement events that HS2 Ltd has been holding up and down the line.

I have been going along to these events to promote and hand out our HS2 Community Toolkits to the local communities. We created the toolkit to help people along the whole route understand why ancient woodland is so vital and how woods and trees are an important element of our landscape. We also cover how communities may be able to use tree planting to help mitigate against the impacts that HS2 will have on their local area.

Stop HS2 tent at Southam HS2 event

Stop HS2 tent at the Southam consultation event (photograph courtesy of Dan Mitchell)

For much of each event I was outside handing out the toolkits and discussing the importance of ancient woodland with the public. At all of the events I attended the toolkit was well received with everyone commenting that it was really helpful and provided them with good advice.

I did upon occasion venture into the halls where HS2 Ltd was presenting the section of line that would affect that particular community. I must admit that I found all the events I attended very fascinating. At the first event I attended when I walked into the hall I had three HS2 ltd members of staff make a beeline for me and ask if I needed any help. It wasn’t quite so overwhelming at the other 4 events, in fact at one they were even kind enough to come and offer if we would like a cup of tea!

Having attended five of these events across the route I can safely say that nearly every person that I spoke to after they had been into speak to HS2 Ltd left feeling as though the consultation was not adequate and that barely any information had been provided. This did not help when it was revealed to me at one of the events that the Draft Environmental Statement as it stands at the moment is not even 1/10th of the full Environmental Statement that is going to be deposited later this year with the Hybrid Bill.

All HS2 Ltd consultation events have now been completed and with only one more week until the actual consultation closes why don’t you take our action and let HS2 Ltd know that the Draft Environmental Statement they have produced is inadequate and incomplete.

Katharine Rist, Campaigner-Ancient Woodland


About Katharine Rist

Campaigner- Ancient Woodland
This entry was posted in Consultation, Government Affairs, Woods Under Threat and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Community Engagement HS2 Ltd style!

  1. edithkl says:

    It is depressing and even infuriating when Eco-Warriors give up the fight and start talking about mitigation when lawyers are still fighting the battle through the courts and it is not nearly over yet.

    (I hope I am not being offensive to brave and hardworking campaigners – sometimes when you are being defensive you come across as offensive. It just can’t be helped.)

    When I saw the HS2 High Court Judgment of 15th March 2013, where it appeared that the Government had won 8 out of 9 points of law against the protesters (who included several Councils), I knew at once it would be appealed on the main point at least – the need for a Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) under the EU SEA Directive (SEAD). (This is actually a UN Directive made under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) 1992 – so the UK would have the same law if it were not in the EU.)

    Judge Ouseley himself held the door wide open to an Appeal, by admitting he might be wrong on this point and then adding that if he was wrong, then another massive point against the Government would then rear its head. The Judge kindly provided a 7-page summary of his very long Judgment for the media, and on page 5 we see these words:
    “The March 2010 Command Paper was not an administrative provision which had “required” the Decisions document in the broad sense of that word in the SEA Directive. If I were wrong and the SEA Directive had applied to the Decisions document, setting a framework for Parliament’s decision on development consent, I would have found that Appraisal of Sustainability had not substantially complied with the Directive, because of its failure to assess the new network proposed north of Lichfield, and the spurs to Heathrow, and I would then have granted an appropriate form of relief.”

    Not surprisingly, David Elvin QC and other barristers immediately went to Appeal, and the case was heard over a few days at the beginning of June. I guess there has been no Judgment yet, it might take a while! Essentially, the issue is the highly sensitive one of whether Parliament must obey international laws on the Environment (of course it must, but is not ready to admit this yet). Client Earth recently won a case in the Supreme Court on a technicality regarding traffic emissions, which was the first step towards an admission by the UK courts that Parliament must obey the UN (this is not an EU obeisance issue).

    If HS2 Action Group lose in the Court of Appeal, no doubt they will proceed to the Supreme Court, and then to Europe itself. Why work has already started on HS2, I do not know. It is not lawful to start until the fat lady has sung, or rather until the European Commissioner responsible for enforcing international law on the environment has.

    It will soon be criminal offence, if it is not already, to fail to increase the amount of “sinks” i.e. absorption centres (e.g. trees) for greenhouse gases and/or to increase the amount of “sources” of the same gases. Rail does not increase sinks, quite the contrary, nor does is decrease sources – in fact it increases them because it is always a platform for ribbon development along the length of the new line, which leads to a massive increase in car use. It also increases other forms of development than housing and roads, all of which are toxic and unlawful. There is no way all this can be “mitigated” – mitigation is a nonsense, like carbon credits.

  2. 8arrows says:

    I might live many miles from this proposed railway line but my roots in this land are still able to feel the pain that will come when more of our ancient woodlands are hacked down & destroyed. I will be diminished but so will everyone!

  3. Peter Kyte says:

    I am not surprised by HS2, they do want to listen to any other point of view, they are only concerned with the commercial aspects, not environmental ones.

    • Katharine Rist says:

      Hi Peter,
      Thanks for your comment. It is a fear among NGO’s and communities that the environment is not at the top of their agenda. There is however consultation out right now until the 11th, so please do take action. Also you may have seen Steve’s blog regarding yesterdays debate, which is an interesting read.

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