To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking (1) with Network Rail to ensure that wildlife habitats on Network Rail land are preserved, and (2) to ensure that habitat value is taken into account by Network Rail when clearing vegetation.
In July this year the Government published a policy statement on enhancing biodiversity and wildlife on the lineside. The statement, which was published in response to John Varley’s 2018 review of lineside vegetation management and is consistent with the Government’s sustainable development goals, sets an ambitious target for Network Rail to achieve no net loss in biodiversity on its existing lineside estate by 2024, and to achieve biodiversity net gain on each route by 2040.
Network Rail is currently drawing up plans to implement the Government’s policy, which will build on its existing practice of accounting for, and where possible, enhancing habitat at the lineside as part of its statutory duty to deliver a safe and reliable railway. Once implemented, these will make Network Rail one of the UK’s most environmentally responsible land-owners.