Sheffield Chamber responds to Rethink HS2 Christmas Advert

Richard Wright, Directory of Policy and Representation at Sheffield Chamber, said:

“Rethink HS2 have recently released a Christmas Advert backed by Chris Packham, Annie Lennox and Emma Thompson which seriously questions whether HS2 should go ahead because of its environmental effects. As in all of these types of communications a one sided case is made which leads people to the inevitable conclusion that HS2 is very bad for the environment and will result in the decimation of ancient woodlands in the UK.

“As a Chamber we try to ensure people and businesses have all the information they need to make a properly balanced decision and we would ask everybody to consider the following points

  1. HS2 will support the transition to a net-zero carbon UK economy: HS2 provides a low-carbon alternative to the car or plane. HS2 offers 7 times less carbon emissions per passenger kilometer than passenger cars and 17 times less than domestic air travel i.e you can travel 50 miles on HS2 for the same carbon emitted in travelling 7 miles by car and 3 miles by plane. (N.B. This difference will obviously reduce as petrol and diesel cars are introduced but the advantage will still be significant, partly because of the carbon emitted during manufacture).
  2. HS2 will create extra space for more trains on the existing network (see video below) which will take cars and lorries off the road and reduce congestion on them and hence carbon emissions.
  3. The estimated total carbon emissions from building and operating Phase One of HS2 (London-Birmingham) is equivalent to less than one month of road emissions
  4. There are over 52000 ancient woodland sites in England. Of these 43 will be affected by the route between London and Crewe. HS2 are working to ensure that over 80% of the total area of those 43 will remain untouched by HS2
  5. A Green Corridor is being created along the route of HS2. HS2 operate their own nurseries and are using them to create over 33 sq kms of new and existing wildlife habitat – an increase of around 30% compared to what is there now.
  6. 7 million new trees (including special emphasis on reintroducing native trees) will be planted as part of the HS2 project.

“Clearly any massive engineering and construction project has to be properly assessed against the environmental aspects that are causing climate change but this has to be a balanced assessment. As a Chamber we are committed to encouraging businesses to reduce their carbon emissions until they are net zero and we would like to achieve that much earlier than 2050. We do not think HS2 is at odds with that ambition.”