Whilst construction work has started on Phase 1 of HS2, the HS2 Phase 2a: High Speed Rail (West Midlands to Crewe) Bill has begun to wend its way through the democratic process. Along with many of you, we petitioned on the Phase 1 Bill, though this will be a new experience for lots of communities further up the line.
Although a Hybrid Bill follows an onerous bureaucratic, and at times frustrating, process, we cannot urge you strongly enough to engage with it. This is your one opportunity to influence the route before it becomes enshrined in law. But the good news is that lots of lessons have been learnt and the Government’s guidance has been updated for the 21st century, alongside this there is a clear template on which to create your petition. It is worth noting that if you petitioned on Phase 1 that this is a different template which must be used.
Although we are still wrangling over issues on Phase 1, our petitioning did contribute to some significant improvements on the Phase 1 scheme. Most notable was the extension of the Chilterns Tunnel and the removal of temporary works, such as construction compounds and stockpiles, from ancient woodland.
Ancient woodland needs protecting
Ancient woodland is an irreplaceable habitat, of great importance for its wildlife, soils, recreation, cultural value, history and the contribution it makes to our diverse landscapes. It is a scarce resource, covering only 2.7% of England’s land area. Meanwhile, ancient trees outside ancient woodland can be hundreds of years old, provide habitat for many different species and are part of our landscape and cultural heritage. The ancient woodlands along the proposed HS2 railway line are all notable for their differing contributions to landscape, amenity, culture and biodiversity. That a Government backed project can cause such destruction continues to be shocking.