Sustainable development


This page outlines ORR's commitments and policy for 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?

We hold Network Rail to account for its sustainable development commitments. In control period 5 (CP5) these include a reduction in amount of carbon dioxide Network Rail produces and a number of other sustainable development key performance indicators (KPIs), such as waste and workforce diversity. These are classed as ‘Indicators’ in the delivery plan for CP5.

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 local authorities or affected individuals.If you have any questions in relation to sustainable development, please contact us.