Suspending the clearances of ancient woodland that may have to make way for HS2 whilst the review into the costs and benefits of the entire project is under way is a sensible move.
But, as some have hastened to do, the decision by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to halt the destruction of irreplaceable areas of outstanding natural beauty should not be taken as an indication that the review is going to rule against HS2.
Meet the people refusing to sell their homes to HS2
Rather, it is an acknowledgement that with the results of the study expected within a few months, there is no point in pressing ahead with environmentally-damaging clearances of land at this stage, provided delaying them does not result in increased costs for a project that is already showing signs of going over budget.
There is a balance to be struck between the growing need for transformational transport links which HS2 represents and the protection of landscapes which are not only loved by Britain’s people, but are havens for wildlife and play a vital role in carbon capture, helping to mitigate the effects of global warming.
Destruction of ancient woodland by HS2 to be halted until government review is complete
Inevitably, building a new national rail network on the scale of HS2 will have environmental consequences. Its developers ought to have this in mind and do everything possible to minimise damage.
But it also must be borne in mind that so much is dependent upon a rail system for the 21st century, especially in our region, where HS2 promises to rejuvenate the economy, making it much easier to do business, create jobs and secure a more prosperous future.