I'm so pleased to report that three ancient woods will escape destruction following confirmation by HS2 Ltd that it will extend a tunnel through part of the Chilterns in Buckinghamshire.
We have campaigned publically, lobbied behind the scenes and submitted reams of evidence to HS2 Ltd and the Select Committee - our senior conservation advisor, Richard, even joined the Select Committee on a bus visit to the Chilterns earlier this year. The extension to South Heath was recommended by the HS2 Select Committee in July.
Saved woods and wildlife
Mantle’s Wood, Sibley’s Coppice and Farthings Wood in Buckinghamshire are part of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), which provides habitat for the rare stag beetle, red kites, butterflies including the orange tip and speckled wood, as well as bluebells.
Without it, 6.2 hectares of ancient woodland would have been lost at Mantle’s Wood alone – the largest single loss on the whole route. Overall, this tunnel extension will save approximately 9.2 hectares of irreplaceable ancient woodland as well as other valuable woodland nearby.
Nikki Williams, Head of Campaigning, said:
"To receive confirmation is a huge relief - we are making progress! This is undoubtedly a breakthrough for ancient woodland.
Once gone, no amount of new planting will ever recreate woodland of the same value for wildlife but there are still at least 59 more ancient woods in the firing line on Phase 1 alone. We will continue to fight for avoidance of this irreplaceable habitat at every opportunity.
We also hope to see the Committee giving proper consideration to the full Chilterns tunnel as originally proposed as many more people give evidence on this in the coming months."
There are still more than 90 ancient woods at risk of loss or damage due to Phase 1 and 2 of HS2 combined.