The machine struck back

I feel like I lost a friend today. The sound of silence on my road is deafening today.

Up until now the I thought I was doing OK working from home, walking in thee morning was good and everything going ok trapped in my little bubbling filling in my time.

And then I saw it.

The photo above is a small sample image of the chopping down of a widlife corridor thanks to network rail, who in their wisdom while everyone is under lock down are going around and butchering 100’s of meters of wildlife and on the same day disposing of the evidence so that the damage that they have done has been taken away. With no evidence left they might not be able to be prosecuted. The only small wild birds I saw today are the sweet little fellers that flew out from the one remaining bush that the railway works had left standing with some tape around it. The rest of the shrubs have probably been carted off to an incinerator to destroy the evidence. This feels like a potential environmental crime scene. Over the last month the birds have been singing, dancing in the air, breeding and feeding and now one of their biggest homes right on my doorstep in the middle of a city is gone.

Action is futile

But never the less attempting to act is what I have done. First I emailed the local Green council and the local Devon Wildlife Trust explaining what had happened and asking them what to do. This was about 08:00am so before work I started work it then got to 15:00pm and I had been working hard myself on a project for Devon Communities Together and I had still not heard anything so thought I had better check on what there response would be. The Green councillor answered her phone and was keen to encourage me to act myself and gave me some neat hints and tips about what to do and who to which I took on board.

The Devon Wildlife Trust Website advised me to phone Royal Society for Prevention of Crualty to Animals which is what I did. They then advised me to contact Natural England to check if the work by Network Rail was authorised and legal to do. So I have now done that and am waitng to here back. The councillor also advised me to contact the local wildlife police officer, which is what I have now also done so I fowarded the two photos I took this morning to the Police. The left side of the photo below is where they cut everything down and the right is a small patch of how it all looked for 100’s of meters along the track.

I have no idea if they have broken the law or what if any the sanctions will be. Even if they get caught out and it is proved that they butchered wildlife while the rest of us are under lockdown and unable to witness the butchering of the bird nests. It will be a hollow and somewhat meaningless victory. I am very sad for the loss of the bird’s home in Exeter on what feels like my door step.

I had bought a wildlife bird table and food which is still traveling to me in the post I do hope my area of Exeter will have some birds around to come to it.

I am still really sad about all this and feel that only when we do nothing do bad men make decisions that impact on the good but by doing nothing we let them win without even trying to stop or prevent it from happening again. I can’t bring the nests back but I can make sure I never forget the type of men that do this and work to counter the wrong’s they do from my little bubble.

So armed with just a digital camera, a contacts list to network and a custom built PC in my lounges I now have to wait to see what happens next and hope the birds in my neighbourhood learn to sing again and that some good might come of this wicked acts and deeds.

to be continued.

HS2 rail link Ecocide

Please be a part of a movement that ends ecocide and just click the link to sign today.

Sometimes I read things that really infuse my soul with passion and anger and this is one of those things. If ecocide laws were introduced in UK this kind of wanton destruction of ancient woodland and wild places could be challenged lawfully. If not it begs the question how far must people go in order to put a stop to how far they are prepared to go. Those that see have vision. Those that do let us not forget your sacrifice. HS2 Rail Link: Ancient Woods under Threat – Woodland Trust.

HS2 rail link

HS2 is a grave threat to the UK’s ancient woods, with 108 at risk of loss or damage. We can’t let this happen. 

Up and down the country, ancient woods and trees face the axe to make way for the high speed train line. 

Despite a lengthy review process, Government announced on 11 February 2020 that the project will still go ahead. 

Woods under threat from HS2:

Phase 1: latest news

Phase 1 of HS2 will link London and Birmingham. 32 ancient woods will be directly affected. A further 29 will suffer secondary effects such as disturbance, noise and pollution.

We campaigned, lobbied and petitioned Government about this phase’s impact. We argued that HS2 should first avoid and, if not possible, minimise damage to ancient woods and trees, and the species dependent on them.

Enabling works are well underway on sections of Phase 1. HS2 Ltd. has to let the Trust know of any works proposed within 100m of ancient woodland.

However, if there are works happening near you that affect ancient woodland, you can let us know using our report a threat form.

Phase 2a: the ongoing fight

Phase 2a runs from Lichfield to Crewe.

In May 2019, we appeared before the HS2 Select Committee at the House of Commons for a third time. We raised further concerns about proposed Phase 2a changes that impact ancient woodland.

These changes reduced the railway’s impact on Whitmore Wood, but only by 0.5ha. Whitmore Wood is still impacted by the single biggest loss of ancient woodland on the entire scheme – an enormous 5.5ha. A single tunnel in this area would remove this loss, but unfortunately the Select Committee has so far rejected this option. 

Phase 2b: worse than we thought

Phase 2b is in two parts. The western leg runs from Crewe to Manchester and the eastern leg runs from Lichfield to Leeds. At least 19 ancient woods are threatened with direct loss – and we expect that number to increase as more woodland is added to the Ancient Woodland Inventory (AWI). 

Another 11 ancient woods are subject to indirect damage.

Over 38,000 people responded to the draft Environmental Statement consultation in 2018, with a staggering 32,000 of these from the Woodland Trust’s campaign.

We’re now waiting for a final Environmental Statement consultation. Once it’s available, we’ll let you know and help you to respond.

Key successes so far

Though there’s still a long way to go, our work has had real success, including:

  • influencing MPs to support a tunnel extension in the Chilterns, saving over nine hectares of ancient woodland
  • persuading HS2 Ltd. to remove temporary works, such as construction compounds and stockpiles, from ancient woodland
  • convincing HS2 Ltd. to examine the impacts of the scheme not just on ancient woods, but also ancient and veteran trees, and potential unmapped areas of ancient woodland
  • halting enabling works in 11 ancient woodlands due to be affected by Phase 1 during the 2019-20 Oakervee Review into if and how the scheme should proceed
  • saving 14ha – the size of 22 football fields – of ancient woodland in total.

But there is much left to do. HS2 remains a huge danger to our precious ancient woodland, a danger which, with your continuing support, we’ll keep fighting every step of the way.

|View of the woodland trust

While we are in favour of green transport and not against high speed rail projects in principle, we are strongly opposed to the HS2 route.

With at least 108 ancient woods being subject to damage and loss, we consider that the impact of the HS2 route on ancient woods and trees across the UK landscape is wholly unacceptable.

Any transport system that destroys irreplaceable habitats such as ancient woodland can never be called ‘green’.