Fears grow over HS2 impacts on rivers and water supplies

Tensions are rising over the impact the High Speed 2 rail line (HS2) could have on rivers and water supplies in water-stressed areas along its route, following an increase in the volumes of water projected to be needed by the project.

HS2 Ltd, the government-owned company in charge of developing the line, needs to use significant volumes of water for construction activities such as making concrete and operating tunnel boring machines. 

But its route cuts through the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which sits on top of a chalk aquifer, feeding globally rare chalk streams that are drying up as a result of over-abstraction, population growth and climate change-induced dry weather. The Environment Agency has declared an environmental drought in the North London and Hertfordshire area, warning that neighbouring areas were also struggling. 

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