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Responsible business and the environment

Our ambition is to build the most sustainable railway of its type in the world.

Tree planting along the green corridor

Our aim is to achieve no net loss in biodiversity. We will minimise emissions that contribute to climate change by designing and operating HS2 with low carbon material. Our target is to reduce our emissions by 50% during construction of the railway in areas such as civils, stations and rail systems from the emissions forecast in the Environmental Statement. We have also set a target to reduce carbon emissions from our office estate and domestic travel by, at least, 50% by 2027.

Environmental certification

Our targets support our strategic goal to ‘deliver value to the UK taxpayer’ and strategic objective to ‘design, construct and operate HS2 to reduce carbon’. We are in the process of identifying corporate waste reduction and other environmental targets as an element of our environmental management system, to align with the Greening Government Commitments.

In late 2017, HS2 Ltd achieved the key milestone of an ISO 14001 certificate from Lloyd’s Register of Quality Assurance (LRQA), for our plans to tackle the project’s environmental impact.  The certificate recognises our ambitions to tackle various effects of the project, including carbon emissions, air and water quality, biodiversity and waste. In addition LRQA has recognised our efforts on pollution prevention and to develop HS2 according to the principles of sustainable design.

In February 2018, Phase One of HS2 was the first project globally to be certified under the Building Research Establishment’s BREEAM Infrastructure pilot scheme (a sustainability assessment methodology). The assessment demonstrates that we have the right policies, strategies and technical requirements in place and have integrated sustainability from the outset of the project. Our ambition is for an excellent rating for infrastructure and we have a target for achieving an excellent rating for our stations too.

Protecting and enhancing the environment

HS2 will deliver low carbon, long-distance journeys that will be supported by low-carbon energy. We will help the UK to tackle climate change and the drive to reach net zero carbon emissions. The most effective way to cut transport carbon emissions in the UK and to improve our air quality is to invest in rail, including HS2. HS2 will help to get more people out of their cars, off domestic flights and take lorries off our congested roads.

We will offer some of the lowest carbon emissions per passenger kilometre being seven times lower than passenger cars and 17 times less than domestic air travel.

The released capacity provided by HS2 on the existing network could be used for more long-distance freight services, taking lorries off the roads. Rail freight reduces carbon emissions by 76% compared to road. Click here to find out more.

Our aim is to protect the environment wherever possible, and to do more than just mitigate in the areas where we are constructing the railway. In many places, we will leave behind richer, more diverse and better connected wildlife habitats.

In June 2018 we announced that alongside the route we will create a green corridor, protecting and enhancing wildlife habitats and creating a positive legacy for communities as well as integrating the railway into the landscape.

We will be planting seven million trees and shrubs along the length of the route, creating woodlands, new pools and ponds. This work is being designed with local communities in mind and we have already planted over 616,000 trees along Phase One.

A £5 million woodland fund is available to people whose land is within a 25 miles zone surrounding the HS2 route who wish to create native woodlands or restore plantations on ancient woodland sites. The Forestry Commission has been managing this fund on our behalf.

By the end of 2019, £1.6 million of the fund had been awarded to 34 projects. In total, these projects will provide approximately 110 hectares of new woodland and 160 hectares of restored ancient woodland.

In 2018 a further £2 million was made available by the Government to fund the creation of new native woodlands for Phase 2a between Crewe and the West Midlands.

Please follow this link to find out more about our approach to the circular economy.

Our sustainability performance report and data can be found in HS2’s Annual Report and Accounts.

We regularly monitor the benefits we are committed to achieving and will report on performance in due course.