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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.

 Phase 2b – worse than we thought


The route for the final, and longest, section of the High Speed 2 rail-link, Phase 2b, has just been published – the track runs in two prongs from Birmingham to Leeds and Crewe to Manchester. As we feared, the impact on ancient woods and trees will be devastating.

Following HS2 Ltd’s release of the draft Environmental Statement for the Phase 2b route, we now have confirmation that at least 19 ancient woods are threatened with direct loss – double our previous estimate. 

16.7 hectares of ancient woodland will be lost from these 19 ancient woods. And these numbers don’t take into account the potentially unmapped ancient woodland facing loss and the additional 11 ancient woods that would be subjected to indirect damage. 

HS2 Ltd is now consulting on the working draft Environmental Statement, seeking the public’s views on  the proposals. We need you to stand up and say the damage and loss to irreplaceable ancient woodland is simply unacceptable.

Please note that the consultation on the draft Environmental Statement of the Phase 2b route closed on 21 December, 2018.

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’ll be keeping this page updated with the latest developments.

Read our consultation response

Woods which will be destroyed by HS2 Phase 2b

HS2 Phase 2
Click for full-size (Artwork: WTML)
  • Cheshire: Bull’s Wood, Winnington Wood, Leonard’s Wood and Smoker Wood (one site), Hancock’s Bank South, Brickhill Wood.
  • Greater Manchester: Coroner’s Wood, Davenport Green Wood.
  • Nottinghamshire: New Farm Wood, Watnall Coppice.
  • Derbyshire: Padley Wood, Owlcotes Wood, Robinson’s Lumb, High Wood.
  • South Yorkshire: Hooton Cliff, Unnamed wood west of Barnburgh Cliff, Watchley Crag Wood, Nicker Wood, Nor Wood.
  • West Yorkshire: Howell Wood.

Phase 2a – The ongoing fight

Thank you to all those who joined our call and urged 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 next year.

The Phase 2a route in its current form will result in damage and loss to 17 ancient woods with a further 27 ancient and veteran trees likely to be impacted. Whitmore Wood in Staffordshire is due to face the single largest loss of ancient woodland from any woodland along the whole of the HS2 route – approximately six hectares of loss from an 18 hectare ancient wood.

We presented evidence to the HS2 Parliamentary Select Committee earlier this year and requested the committee ask HS2 Ltd to tunnel under part of Staffordshire, saving 6.7 hectares of ancient woodland. The current motion to reject the tunnel under Whitmore Wood remains, despite the huge social, economic and environmental benefits of this option. The Phase 2a route as a whole continues to progress through the House of Commons.

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

Phase 1 – Latest happenings

View map of woods threatened by HS2 Phase 1

Phase 1 of HS2 will link London and Birmingham. Thirty-two 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. 

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 14 hectares of ancient woodland in total.