Thursday 27th October 2016                 Change text size:

Parliament needs to consider ‘health and wellbeing’ costs of HS2

high speed train By Tom Page via Flickr

The London Assembly environment committee have said the “hidden costs” of HS2, such as the impact on health and the environment, have been underestimated and should be taken into account to provide an accurate cost-benefit analysis.

HS2 plans to connect London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. The project has faced intense criticisms about the estimated benefits it would provide and the environmental impact of its construction and operations.

Murad Qureshi AM, chair of the environment committee, said, “We’ve heard plenty about the supposed benefits of HS2 – but what about the human and environmental costs? What of the destruction of homes, city parks, ancient woodland and wildlife habitat? What about the 10 years of noise pollution and disruption imposed on local people?

“Central London already has some of the worst air pollution in Europe – have the extra deaths and health effects of this added pollution not been considered at all?”

He added that these costs should be accounted for in order to provide a “realistic price tag” of the project.

The government can’t keep ignoring Londoners’ concerns. People have clearly told MPs that they are unhappy with the rough-shod way this bill is being pushed through,” Quershi concluded.

Two senior conservative MPs recently raised concerns that their constituencies could see the risk of flooding increase because of the HS2 line. The proposed first route of the project will run through a number of flood plains and require seven rivers to be diverted.

The rail line will also go through 49 areas of ancient woodland, according to the Woodland Trust, which has revised its earlier estimate of 43. The organisation previously commented that the HS2 shows a “shocking disregard” for England’s woodland and wildlife.

Despite the criticisms the chair of the project, Sir David Higgins, has maintained that the plans must go ahead or we would be “sentencing the north to underperforming economically”.

Further reading:

HS2 could increase flood risk, MPs fear

MPs call for HS2 money to repair railways in flood-battered south-west

The north will ‘underperform economically’ without HS2, says chair

HS2: opponents to high-speed rail link defeated in Supreme Court

UK must press on with HS2 rail network, MPs urge

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