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Sustainable development

We have two statutory duties under the Railways Act 1993 which specifically relate to sustainable development and the environment. These are:

  • to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development; and
  • to have regard to the effect on the environment of activities connected with the provision of railway services.

The goal of sustainable development is defined in the UK Government’s 2005 strategy document 'Securing the Future – delivering UK sustainable development strategy':

“to enable all people throughout the world to satisfy their basic needs and enjoy a better quality of life, without compromising future generations.”

We have a further duty under the Natural Environment and Rural Committees Act 2006 to have regard to the purpose of conserving biodiversity.

What are our commitments?

In April 2007 we published our sustainable development policy which explains how we are going to discharge these duties. In developing this policy we sought the views of the industry and other relevant stakeholders before publishing our conclusions. We will review our policy regularly to ensure that it remains fit for purpose.

One of our policy conclusion commitments was to review and reissue the Environmental Policy Guidance  to be used by all licence holders when producing environmental policies in accordance with their licence obligations. Following consultation with licence holders in July 2007, our revised document was issued on 13 December 2007. This document includes details of those industry proposed environmental key performance indicators (KPIs) that, for July 2008, we have published in National Rail Trends and those that we will be publishing in future. Copies of both the 2007 guidance document and the industry KPI proposals can be found below.

We do not have the power to enforce environmental legislation - for instance to ask a railway body to remedy instances of environmental nuisance such as noise or vibration. This is the responsibility of the Environment Agency (in England and Wales), and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) (in Scotland), local authorities or affected individuals.

If you have any questions in relation to sustainable development, please contact us.

Last updated: 4 November 2010

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