HS2 aims to increase capacity on our congested railways, improve connections between our biggest cities and regions, and generate jobs, skills and economic growth. With destinations including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, and Crewe, HS2 is expected to relieve pressure on the East and West Coast mainlines by offering fast, direct services between major cities on new and improved lines.
Ensuring that the project strikes the right balance between the needs of affected communities and the environment, and the long-term needs of the country as a whole is essential. HS2 Ltd's Sustainability Policy commits to the protection of the environment through seeking to avoid significant adverse effects on communities, businesses and the environment, including the prevention of pollution.
The policy also commits to minimising impacts where they occur, and delivering enhancements as far as reasonably practicable to attain no net loss to the natural environment. I am pleased that a green corridor is being created alongside the railway, including the planting of seven million new trees and shrubs along the Phase One route from London to the West Midlands.
The Government is also committed to providing support for local communities whilst HS2 is constructed, first along the Phase One route. An overall £70 million funding package has been made available which will help 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. It will support local economies where businesses may experience disruption from the construction of the line.
While these are the many benefits of the scheme I want to ensure that it still represents good value for money for the tax payer . We will shortly be receiving a financial update on the scheme, as MPs, and with a number of rail schemes locally that I am supporting , I want to make sure that the money being spent on HS2 could not be better spent elsewhere.