Although the Coronavirus crisis has been dominating the headlines, environmental challenges have not gone away. The warm weather that is lifting spirits is also leading scientists to predict that 2020 will be the hottest year on record. Indeed, after the lockdown had already started, the DfT launched a radical consultation to inform its Transport Decarbonisation Plan (TDP). Calling for less car use and making public transport the first choice for daily travel, it represents a huge change from decades of previous policy.
It is important for HS2 now to rise to this opportunity. In her most recent report, Sadie Morgan, the chair of HS2’s independent design panel, called for more evidence and communication on how net zero is driving HS2 Ltd’s decision-making, calling for action from board level to those working on site. Professor Morgan also sits on the National Infrastructure Commission, which is undertaking a Rail Needs Assessment for the Midlands and the North. Clearly making the carbon case will be important for securing approval for Phase 2b and beyond.
The big challenge here is (more…)