ACT NOW - HS2 rail link
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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 98 ancient woods are threatened with loss or damage from both Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the project.
Phase 2a - The ongoing fight
6.7ha of precious ancient woodland will be destroyed if a group of MPs get their way. We need to stop this.
The Woodland Trust recently presented evidence to the HS2 Parliamentary Select Committee requesting it tell HS2 Ltd to extend a tunnel under part of Staffordshire. This tunnel extension would stretch under both Whitmore Wood and Barhill Wood, saving 6.7 hectares of cherished ancient woods.
Despite the huge social, economic and environmental benefits of this option, the committee ignored our (and many others) concerns and has rejected this tunnel option on cost grounds. According to experts at Staffordshire County Council the tunnel extension would cost £116 million. That may sound like a lot, but it’s less than £2 per person in the UK. The total HS2 budget is £55.7 billion.
Although the committee’s decision is a setback, it’s not a time to lick our wounds.
We need our supporters to rally together and join us by calling on Nusrat Ghani, the HS2 minister, to step in, support the tunnel, and save this ancient woodland. If, as it keeps saying, the Government is truly committed to leaving the environment in a better state than it found it, the time to act is now.
Phase 2b - Problems to come?
The preferred route for HS2 Phase 2b was announced by government in July 2017. This is the route from Birmingham to Leeds and also Crewe to Manchester. We can already see that this proposal will be a problem for ancient woods and trees. We expect at least ten ancient woods will suffer direct loss and a further eight will be so close they will suffer impact too (from noise, dust, lighting etc).
The draft environmental statement for Phase 2b is now likely to be consulted on in Autumn 2018.
Phase 1 - Latest happenings
Phase 1 of HS2 will link London and Birmingham. 36 ancient woods will be directly affected with a further 27 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.
Our work had some key successes, including:
• Convincing MPs to support a tunnel extension in the Chilterns saving over 9 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 14 hectares of ancient woodland in total.