The government has announced its proposed route for HS2 Phase 2. The High Speed rail proposal is planned to connect Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds. If approved the new line will pass through Derbyshire and we are working hard to ensure that our local wildlife doesn’t lose out because of the scheme.

In January 2012, the then Secretary of State for Transport announced that the creation of a new high speed rail network for the UK would go ahead.
The network, known as High Speed Rail 2 (or HS2), will be a high capacity railway linking the North of England to London and beyond, connecting directly to the continent (via HS1 and the Channel Tunnel) and to Heathrow Airport. HS2 Phase 1 from London to the West Midlands is currently planned to be in operation by 2026. The government has committed to continue HS2 northwards, connecting Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds via two high speed lines running either side of the Pennines. This is known as HS2 Phase 2 and commonly referred to as the Y-route.


The scheme is being developed and promoted by HS2 Ltd, a company wholly owned by the Department for Transport, established in 2009 to design and manage implementation of HS2. In January 2012, following a public consultation on the preferred London to West Midlands route to which around 55,000 responses were received, the government decided to proceed with HS2's Phase 1. At the same time, government agreed that HS2 Ltd should develop proposals to continue the high speed route to link Birmingham and the West Midlands to Manchester and Leeds and a further spur to Heathrow Airport.


HS2 Ltd is now developing the detailed design of HS2 Phase 1 and preparing the package of documents – including an Environmental Statement – which will lead to formal approval by Parliament for the construction and operation of this first section of and promoting the delivery of the new high speed rail network. They are currently preparing a hybrid bill to be submitted to Parliament by the end of this year for the proposed line between London and the West Midlands. Meanwhile, they are continuing to work on the proposals for the line of route beyond Birmingham.


Timescales
Briefly, the expected programme for Phase 2 is as follows:
Early 2013 Government announces engagement programme on Phase 2 preferred route
Early 2014 Consultation on preferred route for phase 2
Late 2014 Government’s announcement of the chosen route for phase 2
With HS2, we want the best deal for wildlife.


We are concerned that the route could adversely affect our local biodiversity.
The Trust’s Carr Vale Nature Reserve near Bolsover is one of the most important bird reserves in Derbyshire, with regular sightings of rarities. Last year, around 146 bird species were recorded on the reserve. This wetland site also provides crucial habitat for grass snakes and a number of dragonflies, including county rarities such as red-veined darter and common hawker. The reserve is within the 1km corridor that will be created around the line during construction and so could be temporarily affected while it is being built.


31 Local Wildlife Sites are also within the 1km corridor and nine of these are likely to be directly impacted. The exact impacts are still unclear, but could be significant.

Four Local Nature Reserves are also within the corridor and two will be directly affected.
 

The plans may also impact on the coherence of our ‘ecological network’ and could result in wildlife sites becoming more isolated. This is contrary to our vision to create a ‘Living Landscape’ for Derbyshire where wildlife has the space to thrive and disperse through a joined up network of sites.


What are we doing?
Derbyshire Wildlife Trust is working with other Wildlife Trusts affected by the proposals to lobby for the best outcomes for the natural environment.
We are encouraging HS2 Ltd to make decisions based on the best available environmental evidence. To help with this we have already provided HS2 with data sets showing the location of Derbyshire’s important wildlife sites and landscapes in a broad corridor along the likely route of HS2 Phase 2. Once HS2 Ltd's preferred route is published, we will carry out a more detailed analysis to understand the likely impacts of the scheme and this will form the basis of our campaign strategy.


We will be talking to MPs in the county whose constituencies are likely to be affected by the line to raise awareness of the impact on wildlife.


For many months, The Wildlife Trusts (TWT) and other environmental groups have been asking HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport (DfT) to establish an ‘Environment Forum’ as a means of sharing views and concerns and ideas about the development and implementation of the scheme. This Forum was finally set up last year, with TWT representation. We are also represented on a ‘stakeholder group’ chaired by the Secretary of State for Transport or the Transport Minister.
We will make sure that our members and the general public are kept informed of the likely impacts on wildlife and we will help you to engage with the consultation process.


We will review and respond to all emerging consultation documents and argue strongly for mitigation and full compensation for any adverse impacts on the natural environment. We will also object to any proposals that would damage or destroy important sites for nature conservation.


How can you help?
Join Derbyshire Wildlife Trust – the more members we have the more effectively we can speak up for wildlife under threat.
• Write to your MP or Local Councillor- are you concerned about the potential impacts to the environment near you? Your MP is there to represent your views and can put pressure on the government to rethink its plans.
Record wildlife- the more information we have on the species and habitats affected by the preferred route, the better case we can make for route realignment and/or additional mitigation measures.
• Keep up to date with what’s happening - any new announcements will be made via the HS2 Ltd website and keep checking our website to see what we are doing.