HS2 phase 1: 33 ancient woods condemned?

From the Woodland Trust.

With the imminent release of the draft Environmental Statement for the London to Birmingham phase of HS2, the Woodland Trust sets out its expectations for the document.

What is at risk?

On the phase 1 stretch of HS2 from London to Birmingham, at least 21 ancient woods, covering a combined area of 409ha, will suffer direct loss and a further 12 are at risk from noise, vibration and further infrastructure such as roads. Three ancient trees, habitats in their own right, will also be lost with another 16 lying within 200m.

Map showing 52 ancient woods at risk from HS2 Phase 1

Ancient woodland threatened by HS2 Phase 1

If a decision is made, as has been muted, to increase clearance from the edge of the track to 80-100m, this could raise the number of directly threatened woods on the phase 1 stretch to at least 27, covering a combined area of 459ha (almost twice the size of London’s Olympic Park). The number ancient trees lost would increase to 6.

Sue Holden, Woodland Trust Chief Executive said:

“HS2’s credibility as a ‘green’ transport measure is seriously compromised by the fact that the route will have a detrimental impact on ancient woodland. We expect the Environmental Statement to recognise each area of ancient woodland and to show that every possible strategy has been taken to minimise that impact.

“It must be understood that there can be no mitigation for ancient woodland loss – it is irreplaceable – and we also expect to see this acknowledged in the Environmental Statement. New planting, although vital to mitigate against the impact of HS2 itself, will never have the same biodiversity value as ancient woodland.

“In the event of any ancient woodland loss – which we are still fighting against – we expect the Environmental Statement to acknowledge the need to put in place comprehensive and proportionate compensation measures that also take into account the local value of ancient woodland. We will push for all compensatory tree planting for ancient woodland loss to be implemented at as high a ratio as possible, and for it to be located in areas where both local people and wildlife will most benefit.”

The preferred route for the entire HS2 line from London to Manchester and Leeds will cause loss or damage to at least 67 irreplaceable ancient woods.

Ancient woodland is rare, irreplaceable and makes up one of our richest and most important natural habitats – 256 species of conservation concern are associated with it.  Just 2% of the UK is covered in ancient woodland and much of it is fragmented. To ensure we build resilient landscapes resistant to disease, we must protect what we have not only by retaining it, but also by continuing to plant to buffer existing woodland and join up habitats across the UK.

For more information or to download an HS2 community toolkit, visit: www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/hs2

Ancient Woodland is land that has been continuously wooded since 1600. The unique undisturbed soils and ecosystems found in these sites form the UK’s richest land habitat. It provides a home to a host of rare, protected and threatened wildlife – 256 species of conservation concern are associated with ancient woodland; 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 now accounts for just 2% of our land area, a loss fuelled by the fashion for planting fast growing conifers in an industrial age. Once destroyed, it can never be replaced.

3 comments to “HS2 phase 1: 33 ancient woods condemned?”
  1. Why do tax payers pay for margaret hodge and her team to give our govenment advice .when they just do not listen to there advice and guidance .all they want to do is waist billions on this project to prove mine is bigger than yours as I have said before they are not fit for purpose .they seem to be following ukip policy for Europe lets hope there are more mps who follow them on hs2 and put a stop this waist of our taxes

  2. It seems to me the whole ot hs2 team including the government is not fit for purpose ,this project should be stopped now before any more of our taxes are waisted on this project .no one seems to no the damage it is going to cause to our country’s wildlife and woodlands people’s homes and lively hoods .
    All they want is to go on and waist millions when they should be looking after our services all they spend there time arguing about Europe .if we are to come out will hs2 be aloud to use their lines or at what price none of these problems have been thought out you feel like banging there heads to gether so come on someone in charge should take the bull by the horns and stop it now

    • If J.Davis is correct in his diagnosis, then clearly there would seem to be an urgent need for fresh thinking and fresh blood when it comes to transport matters.

      Last Monday, 13th May, Joe reminded us that

      “We have have always known that the Government have never been interested in doing HS2 properly…”

      Obviously he was privy to inside information.

      Perhaps then, taking a deep breath, (crossing his fingers?) and briefly playing Devil’s Advocate, could he outline just how he would “do it properly”?

      It would be illuminating to compare and contrast the two approaches to solving the problem and give yet further evidence in support of Mr. Davis’ contention.

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