4 Monitoring and management |
46. Effective monitoring of environmental losses
and gains will be required to ensure that there is 'no net biodiversity
loss' (Part 2) and that mitigations and offsetting (Part 3) are
delivered as planned. HS2 Ecology Technical Group called for:
an effective monitoring framework to inform this
and future sustainable proposals (e.g. HS2 phase 2). Such a framework
has not been outlined in the Environmental Statement and
as such there is inadequate assurance that appropriate monitoring
standards will be applied, and the response mechanisms that will
ensure any issues are remedied effectively and efficiently.
HS2 Ltd, however, emphasised the protections contained
in the Environmental Statement regime:
There are Environmental Minimum Requirements.
That ultimately is an offer or a commitment that the Secretary
of State will make before Parliament. Within that, the Code
of Construction Practice, among other things, offers up protection
and further consideration, a way of working with those knowledgeable
others, statutory authoritieslike Natural England, the
Environment Agency and English Heritagethat we are safeguarding
that environment in the right way.
The Code of Construction Practice features
a wide range of protection in one package. That will ultimately
find its way into construction contracts and we will be preparing
local Environmental Management Plans. ... That will say
how we are going to approach local protection as the construction
works take place. You need to understand that that does not preclude
law like the Control of Pollution Act. It does not exclude the
Environmental Protection Act for things like noise. And there
are other consenting regimes that we will have to go through,
and that we will have to put forward plans to local planning authorities
to ensure that best practicable means are applied to that construction
to afford protection to local communities.
The Environment Agency told us that it was "still
working with HS2 to understand and agree what that monitoring
timeline might look like, and indeed ... who might be best placed
to do that".
47. On offsetting, the Environmental Statement
suggests that such arrangements will be directly managed under
the Hybrid Bill:
It is the intention of the project to deliver
the new habitats through powers under the Hybrid Bill ... The
use of formal offsetting agreements with third parties is not
envisaged to deliver any of the required measures at this stage,
although such agreements may be required to deliver additional
measures should these be required.
Peter Miller of HS2 Ltd told us:
Where we might end up handing over sites away
from the linesalbeit, in part of the Hybrid Bill consideration
at this stageif there is a covenant over land, for example,
and the arrangements would then be handed over to a landowner,
or perhaps that land being handed on to Wildlife or Woodland Trusts,
I think they will have a role and responsibility to ensure that
that biodiversity is assured and they will monitor it. They do
this sort of thing very well.
The CLA thought that the management arrangements
for offsetting were not clear.
Henry Robinson of the CLA described as "iniquitous"
the possibility of HS2 Ltd using compulsory purchase, and the
National Farmers' Union wanted farmers to have "the first
offer" on potential offset land.
48. The HS2 Ecology Technical Group believed that
ongoing monitoring would be required for the time it would take
to restore habitats, which would be 32 years or more under the
terms of the offsetting metric (paragraph 37). That monitoring
must be able to:
inform future sustainable proposals under phase
2. Such a framework has not been outlined in the [phase 1] Environmental
Statement and as such there is inadequate assurance that appropriate
monitoring standards will be applied, and the response mechanisms
that will ensure any issues are remedied effectively and efficiently
They recommended that the Environmental Minimum
Requirements and the Environmental Management Systems
clearly define how the delivery of all aspects of the project
would be monitored against baseline evaluations, be "evidenced
within the Local Environmental Management Plans and be
The NFU pointed out that soils that were disturbed would need
to be managed for up to a decade to restore their productivity.
Robert Goodwill MP, the Transport Under-secretary of State, told
The timescale for re-establishing ancient woodland
is centuries. It is whether you can establish the habitat that
will support the species that were in the ancient woodland, and
establish the habitat that would develop over time into the sort
of ancient woodland that was there before, and what degree of
management would be needed to do that. It is a long-term project
that we need to ensure continues to be managed in a way that will
ensure that we get to that final location.
49. The Environment Bank identified uncertainty,
however, over future habitat management:
Where habitats are to be passed on to different
organisations to be managed,
what funding or management plans will accompany the sites to ensure
ongoing management is appropriate? There is a need to demonstrate
a fundamental understanding of both fiscal and contractual assurance
in order to give the relevant confidence that the habitats will
be delivered and secured for the long-term.
It suggested that where "HS2 Ltd intend to manage
any site for less than 20 years, the target condition [offsetting
metric weighting] should be 'poor', and this will increase the
amount of compensation offset habitat required".
50. The prospects for environmental protections,
mitigations and offsets being delivered hinges in part on the
continued availability of funding for implementing and then monitoring
such measures. The Department of Transport told us that:
We have not taken the approach of having a pre-determined
budget for mitigation and deciding how many of the significant
effects this could avoid. Therefore, there is no fixed budget
for environmental mitigation, it has simply been an inherent part
of the project's design and costs guided by the commitments to
environmental protection described above. The overall cost of
the scheme, which includes these considerations, is set out in
the Estimate of Expense.
In his March 2014 review, the Chairman of HS2 Ltd,
Sir David Higgins, stated that "
I have rejected any
thought that the project should cut back on planned mitigation
measures, whether noise or environmental".
Peter Miller of HS2 Ltd explained that there was "no particular
line in our budget for monitoring", but that the cost of
"monitoring overall is included in the cost build [of the
51. The HS2 Environmental Statement, and
its associated documents and plans, provide a degree of environmental
protection by specifying minimum requirements and standards. There
is also a plan to appoint a Complaints Commissioner for construction-related
matters. But these measures alone are not enough: HS2 Ltd can
avoid adjustments if they are not considered 'reasonable' or 'practicable'
(paragraph 69) and it has provided no separate budget to meet
the cost of environmental protections.
52. The Government should establish a process
to monitor all aspects of the environmental protections needed
for HS2 for the 60 years following the start of construction and
operation of the railway, including biodiversity mitigations,
compensations and offsets. This process must be managed by an
independent body, which should be tasked with monitoring and publicly
reporting progress against the 'no net biodiversity loss' objective
(paragraph 9). The Government should also establish detailed costings
for monitoring and reporting and for the environmental protections
being overseen, and ring-fence those environmental protections
and a budget for them separate from the rest of the project.
107 HS2 Ecology Technical Group (HS2 037), para 6.2 Back
HS2 Ltd, Environmental Statement, Volume 5, Ecology Technical Note
- Methodology for demonstrating no net loss in biodiversity (November
2013), para 1.5.7 Back
Q45; National Farmers' Union (HS2 032), para 5 Back
HS2 Ecology Technical Group (HS2 037), para 6.2 Back
ibid, para 6.2 Back
National Farmers' Union (HS2 032), para 4 Back
HS2 Ltd, Environmental Statement, Volume 1, Introduction to the Environmental Statement,
para 3.1.1: 9.8.8. Back
Environment Bank (HS2 023), para 25 Back
ibid, para 25 Back
Department for Transport (HS2 028), para 4.3 Back
Sir David Higgins, HS2 Plus (March 2014), p2 Back