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Major Infrastructure Projects

Volume 659: debated on Thursday 9 May 2019

12. What steps his Department takes to ensure that major infrastructure projects comply with all environmental licences, permissions and protections. (910788)

I know this is a topic close to your heart, Mr Speaker.

Large infrastructure projects may require an environmental impact assessment of the likely significant environmental effects. In the case of nationally significant infrastructure projects, the EIA forms part of the development consent order application. Requirements are routinely imposed to ensure that development is delivered sustainably. Projects such as High Speed 2 include environmental minimum requirements and associated controls linked to the EIA.

I am glad that the Minister brought up HS2. Even before construction has been given the go-ahead, the HS2 enabling works have breached environmental undertakings and assurances. Given that the project will destroy 100 ancient woodlands, how can we ensure that what DEFRA is trying to achieve in preserving our environment is not going to be destroyed by the HS2 construction companies as they desperately scramble to cut corners and cut the costs of this highly expensive and useless project?

The environmental impact assessment is an important part of the planning process. The development of HS2 will require a number of protective provisions, consents and licences for work that affects protected sites and species and other aspects of the natural environment. The Environment Agency and Natural England will continue to work with HS2 Ltd to ensure that it complies with the conditions set out by the requirements. I recognise the issue relating to the ancient woodlands, but I am sure my right hon. Friend will join me in celebrating the fact that 7 million new trees will be planted, and planting has already started.