HS2 Ltd has insisted that it has not changed any of its environmental commitments after publishing a slimmed-down policy.
The new document omits some pledges and uses weaker language on others. For example, a pledge to ‘protect water resources’ has been removed and an undertaking to (seek to) ‘ensure no material increase of flooding to communities’ has been replaced with one to (seek to) ‘manage the impact of…flooding’.
Similarly, a pledge to ‘effectively manage and control noise and vibration to avoid significant impacts on health and quality of life’ has become one to manage the impact of noise and vibration’.
The new document contains five detailed environmental objectives that the government-owned company ‘will seek to achieve’ in the design, construction and operation of the high speed railway.
This compares with 10 environmental principles in the earlier version.
HS2 has pledged bridges to connect green corridors
An undertaking to ‘avoid pollutant emissions to air or reduce such emissions, and minimise public and workforce exposure to any such pollutant emissions’ has been slimmed down to a pledge to manage the impact of air pollution.
A pledge to ‘reinstate agricultural land to its original quality where it has been disturbed as a result of construction’ has been removed altogether.
However, undertakings to seek to minimise the carbon footprint of HS2 and to achieve no net loss of biodiversity remain.
An HS2 spokesperson said: ‘We updated HS2’s environment policy to more clearly communicate our environmental objectives. We haven’t changed any of our commitments on environmental protection.
‘A decision was taken that some of these were adequately covered by our environmental information papers and therefore did not need to be stated in the high level policy.’