An investigation by the Independent on Sunday has revealed that HS2 threatens 350 unique habitats, 50 irreplaceable ancient woods, 30 river corridors, 24 Sites of Special Scientific Interest, a national nature reserve, 10 county wildlife trust reserves and hundreds of other important areas. All told HS2 will effect a wildlife area the size of Dorset.
While endangered species such as Bechstein’s bat had already been identified on Stage 1, other rare or scarce species at risk are the small blue butterfly, long-eared owl, stag beetle, great crested newt and the purple hairstreak butterfly.
One of the first major sites to be effected by Stage 2 of the route will be Kingsbury Water Park
Fred Hopkins, Senior Ranger said;
“For 39 years we have been developing the park carefully for both people and wildlife and it is going to be totally devastated. It is going to be a massive wide corridor right through a central area of the river system which is chain of wetlands.”
Paul Wilkinson, head of living landscape for the Wildlife Trusts, said:
“The HS2 proposals could have devastating impacts on hundreds of wildlife-rich places previously saved over decades. Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, for example, spent 20 years trying to save an area from becoming landfill only for it to be carved up by HS2.”
Sue Holden, chief executive of the Woodland Trust, said:
“Transport that destroys ancient woodland cannot be called ‘green’. This irreplaceable habitat covers just 2 per cent of the UK. The unique, undisturbed soils and ecosystems found in ancient woodland form our richest land habitat and support a host of rare, protected and threatened wildlife – species that are slow to react to change, find it difficult to adapt and are not mobile enough to move to other locations to survive. Ancient woodland can never be replaced.”
Sites identified as being under threat
Six hundred metres of viaduct will carve up Park Hall, a nature reserve at Water Orton (home to rare moths and birds), and cut through ancient woodland.
Bernwood Forest, where the line would cut through territory of the rare Bechstein’s bat and bite into several other key sites in the Chilterns region, including Weedon Hill Woods, Lotts Wood and Pipers Wood near Amersham.
Two ancient woodlands will be bisected, a serious loss in England’s least wooded county.
Norbriggs Flash nature reserve, mix of pasture and wetland and home to snipe, will be cut in half.
Lightshaw Meadows reserve near Wigan, and Abram Flash SSSI, important for rare birds. Also crosses 7,000-year-old Chat Moss peat bog and splits two SSSIs.
Eighteen wild sites affected, including Perivale Wood, the capital’s oldest nature reserve and home to stag beetle, great crested newt and bluebells, an important indicator of undisturbed and ancient woodland.
Middlesex and Hertfordshire
Broadwater Lake Nature Reserve, part of the Mid-Colne Valley SSSI, and home to one of the most important wetland breeding bird communities in Greater London.
SSSI at Bogs Farm Quarry, home to rare frog orchid, would be cut in two. There would also be damage to the county’s unimproved grassland, nearly 99 per cent of which has been lost since 1930.
Twelve sites including three ancient woodlands at Smithy Wood and Hesley Wood, sites at Holbrook Marsh, Woodhouse Washlands and Treeton Dyke.
The line would go through ancient woodlands near Lichfield, and bisect a wetland with botanically rich grassland near the village of Hints.
Up to 80 sites of county importance are vulnerable.
Water Haigh Woodland Park, near Woodlesford, and Wombwell Wood, near Barnsley, an ancient woodland home to skylarks and woodpeckers, will be destroyed, claim campaigners.