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Shapps calls a halt to removal of ancient woodland for HS2

Words: Laura Edgar
Grant Shapps / Chris McAndrew

Transport secretary Grant Shapps has issued an order that suspends the removal of ancient woodland to make way for HS2 while an independent review into the project is conducted.

All work on ancient woodland must stop unless it can be shown to be “absolutely necessary” to avoid major cost and impacts on the schedule should the scheme proceed as planned.

Shapps has told HS2 Ltd to review its ancient woodlands clearance programme to see what removals can be halted until Douglas Oakervee has reported his findings on the project this autumn.

HS2 Ltd can continue with other preparatory works.

Shapps said: “There is no sense in hiding the challenges HS2 faces, or masking the difficult decisions that need to be taken.

“So, as Douglas Oakervee’s review continues, we must take a sensible approach and recognise that some works simply cannot be undone later.

“Having listened to the concerns of affected residents and parliamentary colleagues, I have ordered HS2 Ltd to consider what works affecting ancient woodland clearances can be delayed for the duration of the review. This ensures we avoid irreversible decisions without major impacts on cost and schedule. HS2 may be a complex project overall, but I think this request is just common sense.”

Image credit | Chris McAndrew