Today, HS2 Ltd have cynically announced that the sporadic woodland planting which is taking place along the route of HS2, mostly on fields and farms the railway has made uneconomical to use, will create a ‘green
corridor’ alongside 140 miles of concrete on Phase 1, suggesting that this is somehow better than the pristine countryside that exists there at the moment.
This was all to be accompanied by HS2 Minister Nus Ghani donning wellies to plant a tree at Dale House Farm in Kenilworth, a farm that has closed for business because HS2 bisecting it, making it uneconomical to farm. If that were not an insensitive enough choice, Dale House Farm sits absolutely in the middle of a stretch once highlighted by The Wildlife Trusts as having the most concentrated loss of natural habitat along the route of HS2, and within sight of a spring that during the HS2 petitioning process, HS2 Ltd refused to accept existed.
If that were not enough, HS2 Ltd is also bigging up the fact their community fund will give out tens of millions for community projects along Phase 1, despite the fact that if the Hybrid Bill had not bypassed Section 20 payments, which all other building projects have to abide by, that figure would be hundreds of billions. In fact, with if the requirement to comply with the Mayors Infrastructure Fund in London had not been legally side-stepped, the £45m worth of community and business funds available would have been used up before HS2 got out of Camden.
Joe Rukin, Stop HS2 Campaign Manager responded:
“With 98 irreplaceable ancient woodlands under threat from HS2, this announcement is cynical corporate greenwashing at its worst, in the hope it will distract people from the fact HS2 is late, billions of pounds over-budget and spiralling out of control.”
“If this is setting a new standard for how infrastructure projects are delivered, then everyone better beware, because the Government have thrown away every precedent and legal protection they could, allowing HS2 to be designed to be as environmentally destructive as possible.”
“The whole concept that sporadically planting a few trees up and down the line in the farms that have shut and the fields that have been lost because HS2 have made them uneconomical to farm is ludicrous, but every part of the announcement today, like including the habitats they won’t destroy as some sort of bonus, or the fact they are giving communities along the route millions of pound less than the statutory requirements they have bypassed, is pure spin to divert us from the fact it was reported the thing went up three billion quid last week.”
Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2, said
“Early on, we warned that sites for new woodland should be chosen carefully as part of a landscape scheme, rather than just using bits of field that happen to be available to HS2 Ltd because the railway is being built, yet that is exactly what is happening.”
“There are real concerns about the sheer scale of environmental vandalism from HS2. There are numerous ancient woodlands that will be directly and indirectly affected by HS2, as well as Sites of Special Scientific Interest and HS2 will also have a devastating effect on bat populations along the route. But the greenwashing has already started.”
“HS2 has huge problems with its budget, and work is running behind schedule. Meanwhile current train travellers are suffering from problems across the existing network, electrification programmes are being cancelled and delayed, and yet the government want to spend billions on one train line that will only add trains between two cities in a decade’s time. HS2 should be cancelled as soon as possible, so that the real problems with the trains can be dealt with.”