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Hs2 - Environmental Impact Assessment Report

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High Speed 2
Environmental Impact Assessment Report

Introduction
Environmental Impact Assessment is very advanced process of forecasting influence on environment of planned operation, in this case- High Speed 2. It is crucial to do EIA before any construction works commence, it will allow designers to change or improve the project in order to minimise negative consequences of it.
This paper include analyse of main environmental issues, such as: impact on agriculture, forestry and soils; air quality; climate, community, cultural heritage, ecology, land quality, visual effects, noise/vibration, waste material resources and water resources/ flood risk.

Abstract
Environmental impact assessment is the formal mechanism used to predict positive and negative environmental consequences of a project prior to the decision to move forward with the planned action.

Description of the development
HS2 is a project of high-speed railway between London Luton and Birmingham, and future extensions towards Leeds and Manchester. Construction works will be held in two phases, the first of them starts in 2026 (London- West Midlands), and second phase starts in 2032 (North West England and West Yorkshire). The biggest aim of creating this railway is to radically reduce travel time, for example: journey from London to Birmingham will take approximately 35 minutes less than it takes now.
HS2 project is a result of cooperation of Department for Transport (DfT) and High Speed Two Limited (HS2 Ltd.). This investment is necessary due to increasing need of long distance travels- in the past 15 years it has doubled and it is still growing. This is the reason why British railways must be improved, especially its capacity, connectivity and duration of journeys. (GOV.UK. 2013)
They designed the route between London and Birmingham taking into account minimising the impact on local environment and communities.

Regulatory and policy background
One of the most important stepping stones on the way to HS2 was High Speed Rail Preparation Act (paving Act). It passed both Houses of Parliament last year. It guarantees monies for preparatory work (including environmental assessment) as well as compensations for those negatively affected by the railway. (GOV.UK. 2013)
The High Speed Two hybrid Bill will seek the necessary legal powers to enable the construction and operation of the first phase of HS2 railway between London and the West Midlands. (GOV.UK. 2013) .
Methodology
To assess impact on environment, the designers of HS2 project had to follow the procedure, shown below- Figure 1.

Figure 1. – Environmental Impact Assessment (Review of HS2 London to West Midlands Appraisal of Sustainability, A report to Government by HS2 Ltd, January 2012)

Methodology of assessing environmental impact of a HS2 project is very precisely described in “HS2 London to West Midlands EIA Scope and Methodology Report”. First step of EIA is to establish the broad scope and methodology of environmental studies that need to be carried out for each environmental topic separately. To do so, they need to undertake surveys, review engineering alternatives- based on these they will identify the local extent of potential impacts and predict what actions should be avoided or reduced. In following this procedure it is fundamental to consider policies, guidelines and legislation and best practice relevant to EIA. After assessing all likely environmental impact, the designers must find a way to minimize negative impact of the project- the hierarchy of mitigation is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2 – Mitigation hierarchy (HS2 London to West Midlands EIA Scope and Methodology Report- A report to HS2 Ltd by Arup/URS)

As we can see, the most preferable is to avoid or minimize negative influence on environment. If these two are impossible to accomplish, the engineers must try to abate some parts of the design e.g. add noise barriers to the project. Repair is usually required during construction works- its impact is often only temporary. Thing that inventors are trying to prevent is to compensate for any losses or damages caused by the project. To decide which of procedures is the most relevant to particular environmental effect- professional judgment must be made.
Afterwards, draft of Environmental Statement can be prepared and publicly consulted. Then final version of ES can be formed.

Environmental impact:
EIA covers all issues listed below:
Agriculture, Forestry and Soils: such as: farming and other rural enterprises, farm buildings, related land use and woodland planting, ancient woodlands;
The designers assures, that good quality agricultural soil will be stripped prior to construction and stored appropriately for future use.
Owners and operators of affected agricultural holdings will be entitled to receive compensation for any losses that HS2 will cause.
Air Quality: this section applies to dust and emissions/pollutants related to construction and operational traffic.
Inventors guaranteed that the railway will operate efficient, non-polluting (at source) electrically powered trains to minimise air pollution.
Community: general effects on residential property, community facilities and communities as a whole: e.g. effects on public footpaths, bridleways, parks and gardens. Temporary presence of construction workers;
All homes which are located close to the planned route have already lost 40 per cent of their value, some of them will be demolished due to the project, but the HS2 Ltd. assures that all household owners will receive compensation for any losses.
Cultural Heritage: this applies to: ancient burials, old buildings, designated assets, buried archaeology, historic landscapes.
It is inevitable that hundreds of historical houses will be demolished, although there are projects to redeem these houses and the owners will get proper compensation for any losses and damages.
Ecology: applies to: protected species, wildlife, habitat disturbance.
HS2 Ltd. will create new habitats and other features of ecological value to compensate for unavoidable losses and reasonably limit the amount of land required for the construction and operation of the project
Landscape and Visual Assessment: Any new large infrastructure project, especially road and railway routes, will have impacts on landscape. In this respect HS2 Ltd. have already incorporated a large number of changes along the route that have been driven by an approach to minimise the impact, for example: more than half of the 140 kilometre route will be in tunnels or cuttings. Apart from this, earth mounding and planting will be used to integrate the project into the local landscape.
Socio-economics: trade, employment, business and the economy/markets (local and national). E.g. isolation effects on businesses or opportunities for jobs during construction/operation. Labour supply. Changes in demographics also included here;
As we can read on official HS2 website: “HS2 will revolutionise our railways, create thousands of jobs, bring major cities closer together, generate investment in neglected areas and provide passengers with an unprecedented travel experience. Explore how HS2 will transform Britain's capacity, connectivity, trains, passenger experiences and travel sustainability while driving growth and regeneration.”
Sound, noise and vibration: It is impossible to avoid this kind of impact, but to reduce negative influence, the designers of HS2 will provide noise barriers and plant trees along the railway (shown below in the figure 3) Figure 3. (from HS2 Ltd's 'Appraisal of Sustainability”)

Traffic and Transport: covers all modes of transport, to include walking and cycling, road and rail, waterways and air.
Preston (2012) noted that even though the inventors predicted continuing growth in the demand for long distance rail travel, it is not 100% certain - Eurostar demand has been below forecast levels in part because the London to Paris/Brussels rail market has not grown as fast as expected due to increased competition.
Waste and Material Resources: off-site disposal to landfill of solid waste from construction and demolition activities (and related earthworks design). Includes waste generated. Disposal of contaminated soil; and
The designers will manage excavated materials locally to achieve balance of cut and fill volumes so as to reduce the number of heavy lorries on local roads;
Water Resources and Flood Risk Assessment: Surface water features, both natural and artificial and ground water. Flood risk and drainage networks). Disposal of liquid waste.
HS2 Ltd. will avoid or reduce impacts on floodplains and flood storage areas and provide balancing ponds to control surface water run-off.
(High-Speed Rail London- West Midlands- Bill: Summary of issues raised by comments on the environmental statement. London)

Discussion
As every huge project, HS2 is no exception - it will have some negative impact on the environment, but the designers did everything to minimize it as much as possible. Environmental assessment has been the foundation of route selection, design development, arrangements for construction and operation of the railway, and measures to mitigate the project’s environmental impacts. HS2 Ltd. put very big effort into reducing adverse environmental influence of their project. They provided very detailed description of the development.
A few words about sustainability of HS2. Despite many negative reviews, there are some obvious benefits of this project. One of the indicators that will be greatly improved is travel time, what will make much easier, for example, to work in London and live in Birmingham at the same time, without spending half of a day in a train or car. And as we know, life in London is much more expensive than in West Midlands. Thus, people will save a lot of time and money by using HS2. Also authors of the official HS2 webpage convince us: “HS2 will revolutionise our railways, create thousands of jobs, bring major cities closer together, generate investment in neglected areas and provide passengers with an unprecedented travel experience. Explore how HS2 will transform Britain's capacity, connectivity, trains, passenger experiences and travel sustainability while driving growth and regeneration.” (HS2. 2012).

Conclusions
- Environmental Impact Assessment is one of first steps in designing,
- Based on EIA, the designers will know what need to be changed or improved to reduce impact on environment
- EIA allows to cancel whole project if it has too negative impact on environment
- The HS2 designers aim was to ensure that, during and after construction works of the project, negative environmental impact will either be avoided or mitigated
- The law requires the Environmental Statement to include a description of the measures envisaged in order to avoid, reduce and, if possible, fix the significant adverse effects of the project.
- Environmental assessment has been the foundation of route selection, design development

References
GOV.UK (2013). HS2: developing a new high speed rail network. Available: http://www.gov.uk/government/policies/developing-a-new-high-speed-rail-network. Last accessed: 20th Nov 2014.
GREAT BRITAIN. ARUP/URS. (2012). HS2 London to West Midlands EIA Scope and Methodology Report, London: Arup/URS
GREAT BRITAIN. DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT. (2012) HS2 Phase One Environmental Statement | Non-technical summary, London: ES 3.0.0
GREAT BRITAIN. DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT. (2013) London- West Midlands Draft Environmental Statement Consultation Summary Report, London: RD 6.1.0 (Volume 5)
GREAT BRITAIN. DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT. (2013) London- West Midlands Introduction to the Draft Environmental Statement and the Proposed Scheme. London: Arup/URS (Volume 1)
GREAT BRITAIN. DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT. (2012) Review of HS2 London to West Midlands Appraisal of Sustainability- A report to Government by HS2 Ltd. London: HS2 Ltd.
GREAT BRITAIN. HS2 INDEPENDENT ASSESSOR. (2014) High-Speed Rail London- West Midlands- Bill: Summary of issues raised by comments on the environmental statement. London
Preston John. (2012). High Speed Rail in Britain: about time or a waste of time?. Journal of Transport Geography. 22 (3), p308-311.
HS2. (2012) What is HS2? [Online] Available: http://www.hs2.org.uk/about-hs2 [Accessed: 20th November 2014]…...

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