Protecting trees and woods
HS2 community resources
Take a look through our downloads to get up to speed with the effects of HS2.
HS2 is a grave threat to the UK’s ancient woods, with 108 at risk of loss or damage. The destruction has already begun but we’re doing everything we can to save as many woods as possible.
Credit: Philip Formby / WTML
Up and down the country, ancient woods and trees are facing the axe to make way for the high speed train line.
Despite a lengthy review process, the Department for Transport announced on 15 April 2020 that Phase 1 could begin.
Four Warwickshire ancient woodlands are being felled right now. We’re working hard to prevent more of these precious havens for wildlife facing the same fate.
Phase 1 of HS2 will link London and Birmingham. 32 ancient woods will be directly affected. A further 29 will suffer secondary effects such as disturbance, noise and pollution.
We campaigned, lobbied and petitioned Government about 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 that depend on them.
Unfortunately, HS2 Ltd started removing ancient woodland in Warwickshire in April 2020. This is against all professional guidance - and HS2 Ltd's own commitments which stated this work would only happen in late autumn when the woods were dormant.
The destruction of irreplaceable habitat is devastating, but to do the work at a time of year when the woods are full of life is adding insult to injury. The impact on wildlife such as nesting birds and breeding badgers will be greater. And it hugely increases the chance of the compensation measures – moving the ancient woodland soils to another location - failing. This measure is inadequate and unlikely to succeed anyway, but should certainly be carried out later in the year when everything is dormant.
We’re pressing HS2 Ltd to explain why they have not adhered to commitments made during the Hybrid Bill process.
The four Warwickshire woods directly affected are:
The loss from these woods totals 4.9 hectares - that’s around the size of 5 football pitches.
If works are happening near you that affect ancient woodland, you can let us know using our report a threat form.
Phase 2a runs from Lichfield to Crewe.
In May 2019, we appeared before the HS2 Select Committee at the House of Commons for a third time. We raised further concerns about proposed Phase 2a changes that impact ancient woodland.
These changes 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 - an enormous 5.5ha. A single tunnel in this area would remove this loss, but unfortunately the Select Committee has so far rejected this option.
Our November 2019 appearance before the House of Lords Select Committee was cancelled because of the General Election. Rescheduled for March 2020, it was abandoned again due to the coronavirus pandemic and we don’t currently know when we will be called to evidence.
Until Phase 2a has completed its passage through the House of Lords it can’t be given permission to start, so no works should be happening on the ground.
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 being added to the Ancient Woodland Inventory (AWI).
Another 11 ancient woods are subject to indirect damage.
Over 38,000 people responded to the draft Environmental Statement consultation in 2018. A staggering 32,000 of these were from the Woodland Trust’s campaign.
We're now waiting for a final Environmental Statement consultation, which is expected in 2021 at the earliest. Once it's available, we'll let you know and help you to respond.
Though there's still a long way to go, our work has had real success, including:
But there is much left to do. HS2 remains a huge danger to our precious ancient woodland, a danger which, with your continuing support, we’ll keep fighting every step of the way.
While we are in favour of green transport and not against high speed rail projects in principle, we are strongly opposed to the HS2 route.
With at least 108 ancient woods subject to damage and loss, we consider that the impact of the HS2 route on ancient woods and trees across the UK landscape is wholly unacceptable.
Any transport system that destroys irreplaceable habitats such as ancient woodland can never be called 'green'.