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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’.