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Government urged to consider environmental impacts of HS2

Words: Laura Edgar
Woodland / Shutterstock_278114213

The Woodland Trust has called on its supporters to lobby HS2 review chairman Douglas Oakervee, transport secretary Grant Shapps and HS2 minister Paul Maynard to consider evidence concerning the environmental impacts of the project.

The charity wants all work to be suspended until the review is complete.

While preparatory work for phase 1 is underway, including the “forced eviction of bats and badgers”, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered a review into spending on the scheme.

Abi Bunker, director of conservation and external affairs, expressed concern that the review will only look into the business case for HS2 and ignore the value of ancient woodlands and important wildlife habitats to this country.

“Ancient woodland is one of our most precious natural habitats. It cannot be moved. It cannot be replaced and we may well lose many of our greatest national assets and habitats – assets that can never be replaced – to a scheme that might not even happen.”

In total, 34 ancient woods will be affected during Phase 1, with a loss of more than 31 hectares, while 29 will suffer secondary effects such as disturbance, noise and pollution.

“The fact we are losing ancient woodland at all is terrible. To lose it needlessly would be a travesty. This destruction cannot be allowed to go ahead,” says Bunker.

She emphasised that "time is of the essence".

"We need people to act fast and apply pressure to the government to make them realise that HS2 will cost far more than money, and that destroying our precious woodlands is a one-time mistake that will be looked back on in shock by future generations.

“Our ancient woodlands and the unique species they support are on borrowed time. We need government to listen before it’s too late to save them from careless destruction.”

Ancient woodland along the route is due to be bulldozed this autumn.

HS2 is attempting to translocate some sites but the Woodland Trust has argued several times that the practice does not work and has proactively campaigned against it. Translocation involves moving soils and sometimes tree stumps to a receptor site to see if some habitat is salvageable, but the trust says there is very little evidence of its success.

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