On the recommendation of the independent Oakervee review, the Prime Minister gave the go-ahead to HS2, alongside major improvements to local transport networks up and down the country.
HS2 will play an important role in the UK’s transition to a net-zero carbon economy by 2050. I understand that HS2 will offer some of the lowest carbon emissions per passenger km, 7 times less than passenger cars and 17 times less than domestic air travel in 2030. Indeed, HS2 is expected to help reduce the number of cars and lorries on the road and cut demand for domestic flights.
It is estimated that the total carbon emissions produced by both constructing and operating Phase One for 120 years would be the same as just one month of the UK's road network.
I am also pleased that a green corridor will be created alongside the railway. This will involve the planting of seven million new trees and shrubs, including over 40 native species, along the Phase One route from London to the West Midlands.
It is welcome too that an overall £70 million funding package has also been made available to enhance community facilities, improve access to the countryside, and help improve road and cycle safety in towns and villages along the HS2 Phase One route.
I welcome that, as part of its ambition to be one of the most environmentally responsible infrastructure projects ever delivered in the UK, HS2 announced that it will aim to go even further during Phase 2, and deliver a net gain in biodiversity on its Crewe-Manchester leg. This sets a new standard for HS2's environmental commitments. Phase 2 is an opportunity for innovative biodiversity projects to be realised under a net gain approach, with the benefit of a considerable timeframe in which to develop stakeholder relations, commission research and gather evidence. I look forward to further details being released in due course.