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HS2 rail link

Right now, the biggest single threat from development to ancient woodland is the HS2 rail project. Up and down the country ancient woods and trees face the axe to make way for the high speed train line. Currently 108 ancient woods are threatened with loss or damage from both Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the project.

Woods under threat from HS2

HS2 map key




Phase 1 – latest happenings

Phase 1 of HS2 will link London and Birmingham. 32 ancient woods will be directly affected with a further 29 suffering secondary effects such as disturbance, noise and pollution.

The Woodland Trust campaigned, lobbied and petitioned government in relation to the impacts of this phase. We argued that HS2 should first avoid, and if not possible, minimise damage to ancient woods and trees, and the species dependent on them.

Enabling works are well underway on sections of Phase 1 – HS2 Ltd. has to let the Trust know of any works proposed within 100m of ancient woodland.

However, if there are works happening near you that affect ancient woodland you can let us know using our report a threat form.

Tell us about a threat

Phase 2a – the ongoing fight

Phase 2a runs from Lichfield to Crewe.

The Trust is appearing before the HS2 Select Committee at the House of Commons for a third time in May 2019. This is to raise further concerns we have about proposed changes to Phase 2a that impacts more ancient woodland.

These changes have reduced the railway’s impact on Whitmore Wood, but only by 0.5ha. Whitmore Wood is still impacted by the single biggest loss of ancient woodland on the entire scheme (5.5ha loss). A single tunnel in this area would remove this loss, but unfortunately the Select Committee has so far rejected this option.

Thank you to the 10,000 of you who emailed Nusrat Ghani MP, the HS2 Minister, to step in and save Whitmore Wood from destruction. We are currently still lobbying Ms Ghani and we intend to bring this matter up with the House of Lords Select Committee later this year.

If you would still like to email Ms Ghani with your concerns then please email her directly at

Phase 2b worse than we thought

Phase 2b is in two parts. The Western leg runs from Crewe to Manchester and the Eastern leg runs from Lichfield to Leeds. At least 19 ancient woods are threatened with direct loss – and we expect that number to increase as more woodland is added to the Ancient Woodland Inventory (AWI).

Additionally 11 ancient woods are subject to indirect damage. In total we expect just under 17ha of ancient woodland to be lost.

Over 38,000 people responded to the consultation on the draft Environmental Statement and a staggering 32,000 of these responses were via the Woodland Trust’s campaign.

We are hugely appreciative of those who took part in what became our biggest ever HS2 campaign – thank you. You stood up for woods and trees, hectares and hectares of irreplaceable ancient woodland, and your voice will make a difference.

We are waiting for HS2 Ltd.’s response to the consultation and will be keeping this page updated with the latest developments.

Key successes with more to do!

Our work had some key successes, including:

  • Convincing MPs to support a tunnel extension in the Chilterns saving over nine hectares of ancient woodland
  • Convincing HS2 Ltd. to remove temporary works, such as construction compounds and stockpiles, from ancient woodland
  • Convincing HS2 Ltd. to examine the impacts of the scheme on not just ancient woods, but also ancient and veteran trees, and potential unmapped areas of ancient woodland
  • Saving 14ha of ancient woodland in total.

But there is much left to do. HS2 remains the single biggest danger to our precious ancient woodland, a danger which, with your continuing support, we’ll carry on fighting every step of the way.