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Petition Hold a public vote on HS2 project as it is being paid for by the public

I would like a public vote/referendum on whether we want to spend in excess of £100 billion on a train project which will destroy or irreparably damage natural habitats and wildlife sites along the route.

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To me, the damage & cost to public land, wildlife & nature at a time of Environmental emergency & recession outweighs the long-term benefits of travel. The HS2 project should be decided by the people paying for it, the tax payers. It’s destroying communities & environment.

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Government responded

This response was given on 3 December 2020

HS2 will transform, and help decarbonise, our country’s transport network, bring our biggest cities closer together, boost productivity and rebalance opportunity across the country.

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As set out in the Full Business Case for Phase One, the Government has carefully considered the merits and disadvantages of proceeding with HS2 and has firmly concluded that it should go ahead. HS2 will transform our country’s transport network, bringing our biggest cities closer together, boosting productivity and rebalancing opportunity fairly across the country. Once operational, it will provide a low-carbon alternative to cars and planes. During construction, we want HS2 to be the most environmentally responsible major infrastructure project in UK history.

HS2 is at the heart of our plans to build back better from Covid-19, creating thousands of jobs and providing certainty at a time when people need it the most. This railway is a long-term investment which will bring our biggest cities closer together, boost productivity and provide a low-carbon alternative to cars and planes for many decades to come.

HS2 has rightly been subject to a great deal of Parliamentary and public scrutiny. Phase One was the subject of considerable debate in Parliament during the passage of the High-Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Act 2017 (“the Phase One Act”). The Phase 2a Bill is currently being taken through Parliament, and the Government agreed with the Oakervee Review's conclusion that splitting Phase 2b into smaller sections, and more than one Bill, could facilitate scrutiny in Parliament, and make its management and construction more manageable.

The Transport Secretary has made a clear commitment to greater transparency on HS2, and Andrew Stephenson, the dedicated HS2 minister, is reporting bi-annually to Parliament on the project. The Department for Transport has also established a monthly Ministerial Task Force to provide strategic oversight, support and challenge for the successful delivery of Phases One and 2a. Earlier this year, Government reset the funding regime for HS2 Phase One including a Target Cost and funding envelope as well as providing revised estimates for the wider scheme, subject to the ongoing work on the Integrated Rail Plan.

This Government takes its environmental commitments extremely seriously. That is why the UK was the first major economy in the world to legislate for net zero and why we have published a 25-year Environment Plan setting out what we will do to protect and enhance our natural environment for future generations. The UK is decarbonising faster than any other country in the G20 and is providing global leadership on climate change.

The environmental impacts of HS2 were closely scrutinised by Parliament during the passage of the Phase One Act, which gives statutory and planning authority for the construction of Phase One of the scheme. Alongside the Act, the Government also published the Environmental Minimum Requirements, a suite of additional environmental commitments to further reduce the impacts of the project.

As well as environmental protections, a range of measures to mitigate and compensate for environmental impacts have been put in place. This includes a commitment to seek to achieve ‘no net loss’ to biodiversity and the creation of a ‘green corridor’ alongside HS2, which will provide bigger and better habitats for wildlife, and integrate HS2 into the landscape. On Phase One alone over 33 square kilometres of new and existing wildlife habitat will be created, an increase of around 30% compared to what’s there now.

All environmental measures, whether they be the creation of new habitats or the enhancement of existing habitats, will be supported with long-term management plans and agreements. This will ensure that the new railway leaves a long-lasting legacy for both wildlife and future generations.

HS2 will give us a step-change in capacity delivering better connectivity between our largest towns and cities. The Government’s decision to proceed with HS2 supports our objectives on climate change as the railway will play a key role in decarbonising our transport sector. This is because, once HS2 is in operation, it will offer a low carbon alternative to cars and domestic air travel. It will also free up space on the existing railway for thousands more passengers to travel by rail and to move more goods by rail freight, taking lorries off our roads.

Department for Transport

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