Green groups are backing plans for better safeguards to minimise environmental impacts that could be caused by HS2.
It comes after the Environmental Audit Committee put forward a report saying that as much as possible needs to be done to lessen the damage on the countryside if HS2 goes ahead.
Ralph Smyth, the Campaign to Protect Rural England's senior transport campaigner said:
We have been calling for environmental funding to be ring-fenced in HS2's budget since 2011 and it's disappointing that the Government has been unwilling to take this forward. We are pleased that MP's are supporting our call. With Parliament set to vote on HS2 later this month, the Department for Transport will need to come up with an adequate response quickly if it wants to keep the project on track.
Many improvements to HS2's route and improvements to environmental protection, such as more tunnelling and putting transmission lines under ground to protect the landscape, and more noise barriers to protect rural tranquillity, have been refused by HS2 Ltd on the basis of their cost. But the company refused to answer CPRE's requests for information about costs, telling us it would be 'manifestly unreasonable' to respond. It is heartening that MP's have come to our aid by saying it should be up to Parliament, not HS2 Ltd, to say what is and isn't reasonable.
Better safeguards are needed if environmental impacts of the proposed HS2 rail route are to be minimised, according to the Environmental Audit Committee.
It wants Parliament, in its capacity as the planning authority, to ensure everything possible is done to lessen the damage on the countryside.
Chair of the Committe, Joan Walley MP said:
*The Government needs to show real commitment to dealing with the impact that HS2 will have on our countryside and wildlife. Ancient woodlands and other hard to replace sites of natural value should not be subordinated to crude economic calculations of cost and benefit. It is imperative that an infrastructure project on such a large scale implements proper environmental safeguards and ensures that impacts are minimised. This means adopting stringent, enforceable standards and setting aside adequate funding. *
The HS2 Hybrid Bill will be given its second reading on the 28th April, after which it will be referred to a dedicated select committee to examine 'petitions' against it.
Volunteers involved in cleaning up Britain's beaches collected more than two hundred thousand items in just one weekend.
The figures have come in a report from the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) which organised the 'Beachwatch Big Weekend 2013' last September. A total of 224,405 items were collected.
It was the twentieth annual Beachwatch event organised by the organisation. The MCS said that beach litter was increasing and that behaviour needed to change. Lauren Eyles from the MCS said:
"It's coming in from the sea, being blown from the land or simply being dumped and dropped. After 20 years of campaigning it's disheartening that in 2013 we are seeing worse litter levels than ever.
"As well as half a TV, a French bulletproof vest and a pack of bacon, there was a brass candlestick, some plastic bird feet, a birdcage, a bath plug, half a canoe and a set of dentures,"
"Plastic is a real issue for our oceans and beaches. This year we also picked up lots of lids and caps. However, despite it being a really warm summer, we saw less crisp, sweets and lolly wrappers and fewer plastic bottles."
Oxfordshire County Council is to hold a summit about how to tackle any flooding in the future. The move follows the flooding experienced by residents and business owners in last week's storms and floods.
Businesses in Oxfordshire have lost tens of millions of pounds - through loss of trade.
The flood summit will look at ways to make sure the area gets the funding it needs to bolster flood defences. Councillors are hoping to secure
In the following interview Councillor Rodney Rose from Oxfordshire County Council told ITV Meridian presenter Fred Dinenage that flooding is always going to be a worry - the more we build in flood plains, but don't provide more sustainable drainage or other similar schemes.
Henrik Dahle, from Southampton, climbed a different tree every day for a year - in ten different countries.
A spokesperson from the Environment Agency has said all the swans hit by a mysterious oil spill along the River Thames in Berkshire have been removed from the water. More than eighty of the birds are being cared for at a rescue centre.
The birds affected bords were found in the area between Windsor Bridge and Eton Bridge, and recovered on Friday and Saturday.
Environment Agency investigators are still trying to find the source of the oil, with possible causes ranging from flytipping, leakage from boats or tanks, to faulty drainage systems. However there are only small pockets of the substance left in the water, which makes it harder to detect the origin.
It is hoped that it will be possible to release the swans back into the River Thames in the next few days.
The region's bees remain under threat with the latest figures revealing a third of the south's colonies failed to survive this past winter. On the Isle of Wight there are plans to avoid cutting back vegetation on some roadsides to preserve habitats.
Another way of tackling the decline is to create new habitats and today volunteers began work on a new wildflower meadow at Titchfield Haven in Hampshire. When its complete it will be the sixty-second 'Bee World' created by the Friends of the Earth environmental group. Nia Mason reports.
The interviewees are Tim Pratt, the Co-ordinator, Gosport & Fareham Friends of the Earth; Karima Englefield, Assistant Ranger at the Titchfield National Haven Nature Reserve; and Caroline Dinenage (Conservative), Karima Englefield, Assistant Ranger at the Titchfield National Haven Nature Reserve; and Caroline Dinenage, the MP for Gosport.
A stark new report from erosion experts has concluded that rising sea levels will wash away beaches flooding hundreds of homes and businesses over the next 100 years, unless there is massive investment in new flood defences on the Sussex coast.
The scientists examined the five miles of coast between Brighton Marina and Shoreham in their research.
However, some business leaders say the warnings are 'alarmist' - and that the report could drive down property values.
The interviewees in John Ryall's report are: Councillor Ollie Sykes from Brighton & Hove City Council (Green); John Davey, Harbour Master at Brighton Marina; and Patrick Kneath, a property consultant.
A major new wildlife haven has opened at a former landfill site at Thurrock in Essex today.
The Thameside Nature Park is one of The Wildlife Trust's largest restoration projects, transforming the 120-acre Mucking Landfill into a range of wild habitats. The land is now home to rare bees, birds and reptiles, other animals and plants.
For decades, the capital's waste has been piled onto a landfill site on the north bank of the Thames Estuary.
Now it's being given an overhaul - and transformed into a nature haven for rare birds, bees and reptiles. It will eventually expand to cover 845 acres - around twice the size of Regents Park. Here's Piers Hopkirk.