The charity has slammed the decision to plough ahead with work to translocate the soil, adding it is appalled that a loophole enabling HS2 to destroy ancient woodland, despite an ongoing Government review, has been invoked so quickly.

This loophole was included as part of a recent announcement by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps that ancient woodland removal would be put on hold until the outcome of the current review into HS2.

The loophole said the destruction would be paused “unless absolutely necessary to avoid major cost and schedule impacts.”

It is still unclear how HS2 defines “absolutely necessary” and it is still not known which of the ten other ancient woods due for translocation this autumn will be removed during the review period.

HS2 has confirmed the bulldozers will move into South Cubbington on 9 October – although contractors attempted to start work yesterday.

Woodland Trust Head of Campaigns Adam Cormack said:

“This reckless destruction must stop.

“Rare, precious, irreplaceable ancient woodland should be completely and utterly off limits pending the outcome of the independent review. No arguments. No exceptions.

“We were right to be cautious in our welcome of the Secretary of State’s announcement and our worst fears have been confirmed.

"HS2 is destroying this ancient woodland before the Government review of the project has concluded and reported its findings. This is being justified on avoiding major cost and time delays but HS2 is already over budget and years behind schedule.

“No matter how many trees HS2 plant or how many tonnes of woodland soil they move, they will never be able to repair the damage that will be caused or replace the ancient woodland habitats that will be destroyed.”

The contractors undertaking the work have never carried out ancient woodland translocation before.

Translocation of ancient woodland involves moving soils and sometimes coppiced stumps to a receptor site in the vain hope some habitat is salvageable, but there is very little evidence of its success.

Woodland Trust ecologist Luci Ryan said:

“The beauty, structure and full biodiversity of ancient woodland cannot be moved from place to place by a bulldozer, expecting all of the thousands of interactions between plants and animals to resume as if nothing had happened.”

“The word translocation is often used in a way that implies ancient woodland can effectively be removed from a site and re-established elsewhere. However, as far back as 2012 Natural England has stated that ancient woodland as a system cannot be moved. The complex communities found in ancient woodland are a product of the interaction between unique geographical and historical factors, which cannot be replicated.

 “That’s why we do not advocate it and have repeatedly told HS2 there is very little evidence to suggest it works. The Trust has repeatedly asked to see its methodology but to no avail.”

The Trust is calling on the public to continue to put pressure on HS2 and Government to halt all work pending the outcome of the review by taking action via its latest HS2 campaign.

South Cubbington Wood forms part of the Princethorpe Woods complex which is the largest concentration of semi-natural ancient woodland in Warwickshire. A particular rarity of the site is the presence of wild service trees, which only tend to be found in ancient woodland. Seven species of bats have been recorded at South Cubbington – common pipistrelle, soprano pipistrelle, Nathusius’ pipistrelle, Leisler’s, Noctule, Daubenton’s and brown long-eared. A spectacular carpet of wood anemones appears each spring. Grasslands between the wood and the River Leam are home to numerous butterflies and ground-nesting skylarks.

–ENDS–

Notes to editors

For media queries only please contact Dee Smith on 01476 581121 or deesmith@woodlandtrust.org.uk. Public enquiries should be directed to 0330 333 3300.

The Woodland Trust is the largest woodland conservation charity in the UK. It has over 500,000 supporters. It wants to see a UK rich in native woods and trees for people and wildlife.

The Trust has three key aims: i) protect ancient woodland which is rare, unique and irreplaceable, ii) restoration of damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life, iii) plant native trees and woods with the aim of creating resilient landscapes for people and wildlife.

Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 sites in its care covering over 28,700 hectares. Access to its woods is free.

Ancient woodlands and HS2

At least 108 ancient woods are threatened with loss or damage from the two phases of HS2.

Thirty-four ancient woods will be directly affected on Phase 1 with a further 29 suffering secondary effects such as disturbance, noise and pollution.

Ancient woodlands that will suffer direct loss on Phase 1 are listed below.

Woods marked ** are those due for translocation and destruction this autumn.

 

Name

Grid ref

Loss

(ha)

County

Battlesford Wood

TQ040889

0.08

Buckinghamshire

Pinnocks Wood

TQ060864

0.3

Buckinghamshire

Jones' Hill wood

SP887044

0.7

Buckinghamshire

Sheephouse Wood

SP702233

1.43

Buckinghamshire

Decoypond Wood

SP695239

1.1

Buckinghamshire

Unnamed near Decoypond Wood 1

SP691243

0.94

Buckinghamshire

Unnamed near Decoypond Wood 2

SP691242

0.49

Buckinghamshire

Unnamed near Decoypond Wood 3

SP693239

0.11

Buckinghamshire

Mossy Corner Spinney

SP616343

0.29

Northamptonshire

Halse Copse

SP574417

0.3

Northamptonshire

Fox Covert (Glyn Davis Wood)

SP462536

1.35

Warwickshire

Burnt Firs **

SP374652

1.4

Warwickshire

South Cubbington **

SP351686

2

Warwickshire

Crackley **

SP289742

0.9

Warwickshire

Birches Wood**

SP289742

0.6

Warwickshire

Roughknowles**

SP288748

0.4

Warwickshire

Broadwells**

SP280752

3.2

Warwickshire

Little Poors

SP267758

0.2

Warwickshire

Un-named Wood near Stoneleigh **

SP323725

0.2

Warwickshire

Blackwaste Wood

SP271757

1.9

Warwickshire

North Wood **

SP190956

1.8

Warwickshire

Walker's Spinney

SP183982

0.1

Warwickshire

Long Itchington Wood

SP388627

 

0

Warwickshire

Unnamed copse of Drayton Lane **

SK169002

0.2

Staffordshire

Roundhill

SK157022

1.3

Staffordshire

Rookery **

SK152026

1.4

Staffordshire

Little Lyntus

SK136127

1.4

Staffordshire

Fulfen **

SK148098

0.4

Staffordshire

Ravenshaw

SK124135

1.7

Staffordshire

Vicar's Coppice

SK110137

0.5

Staffordshire

Big Lyntus

SK131129

0.8

Staffordshire

John's Gorse & Hanch Wood

SK105142

2.6

Staffordshire

Parkhall

SP162908

0.7

Birmingham