HS2 will be ‘disaster’ for natural environment

Posted On: 
10th April 2017

The Woodland Trust has discovered Phase 2 of HS2 will have a serious effect on the natural environment.

Coroners Wood near Partington, Chesire, one of the woodlands threatened with direct loss is currently carpeted with bluebells.
Credit: 
Adrian Ashworth/Woodland Trust

HS2 Phase 2a and 2b will impact a minimum of 24 irreplaceable ancient woods, analysis by the Woodland Trust has revealed.

The damage to the woods will be a “disaster”, the Trust said, and added the project so far has been an “absolute disgrace”.

Phase 1 of the controversial high speed line was granted Royal Assent in February with a final total of 63 ancient woods condemned to suffer loss or damage.

On Phase 2 the Trust estimates that 11 woods are threatened with direct loss if the current proposed route goes ahead. A further 13 are close enough to be threatened by damaging secondary effects including noise, dust and lighting.

Examples include Hancock’s Bank near Altrincham, and Coroners Wood near Partington, both in Cheshire, New Farm Wood near Bulwell in Nottinghamshire and Whitmore Wood, Whitmore Heath in Staffordshire. All are carpeted with bluebells at this time of year.

A number of woods that could be ancient but do not appear yet on Natural England’s Ancient Woodland Inventory have also been identified – some by HS2 Ltd, others by the Woodland Trust. As evidence is gathered and the status of these woods is confirmed, it’s likely that the number of threatened ancient woods will increase.

Beccy Speight, Woodland Trust Chief Executive, said:

“Any loss or damage to ancient woodland is a disaster for the natural environment, particularly when you consider how little we have left. Just 2% of the UK’s land area is made up of these precious and irreplaceable habitats, so for large infrastructure projects like HS2 to be riding roughshod over them, rather than setting an example to avoid them, is totally unacceptable.

“With the trail of destruction HS2 Ltd will cause to ancient woodland, it will never be able to call this project ‘green’ – so far, it’s been an absolute disgrace.

“HS2 Ltd will say it’s planting millions of trees along the route – that’s all well and good, but no amount of new trees can ever recreate ancient woodland.”