Major infrastructure proposals, such as High Speed Rail, need to be ‘future-proofed’ by comprehensive testing against different scenarios. This will help identify the best solutions for genuinely furthering sustainable development.
It is not possible to predict impacts accurately over a 75 year timescale, as is being attempted for HS2. This has led to the methodology for assessing HS2’s benefits being seriously called into question.
The treatment of impacts that cannot be monetised, such as those on landscapes, heritage and habitats, has been particularly limited in HS2’s business case, with very limited weight given to them. A new strategic and transparent approach is needed for High Speed Rail in an increasingly uncertain future. Assumptions about future transport policy and trends need to be exposed to scrutiny, taking account of possible technological changes as well as changes to the cost of different forms of travel.