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HS2 told to stop ancient woodland clearing

HS2 told to stop ancient woodland clearing

Published by Dan Gooding at 1:04pm 16th September 2019. (Updated at 9:54am 17th September 2019)

We could see some HS2 work in Buckinghamshire stop - for now, at least.

HS2 Limited have been told to stop removing ancient woodland until the review findings are published.

The Transport Secretary has said that other work will carry on, to stop costs rising further.

HS2 in Buckinghamshire

The Transport Secretary told HS2 Ltd to review its ancient woodlands clearance programme – and assess what removals can be halted until after the examination of HS2, led by Doug Oakervee, has reported in autumn.

He recognised the concerns of local residents and campaigners that clearing ancient woodland is irreversible.

The Transport Secretary told HS2 Ltd today that these removals will only be allowed during Oakervee’s work if they are shown to be absolutely necessary to prevent major cost and schedule impacts.

HS2 Ltd will continue with other important preparatory works which, if delayed, would have a damaging impact on cost and schedule if HS2 were to continue.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:

"There is no sense in hiding the challenges HS2 faces, or masking the difficult decisions that need to be taken.

"So, as Douglas Oakervee’s review continues, we must take a sensible approach and recognise that some works simply cannot be undone later.

"Having listened to the concerns of affected residents and Parliamentary colleagues, I have ordered HS2 Ltd to consider what works affecting ancient woodland clearances can be delayed for the duration of the review. This ensures we avoid irreversible decisions without major impacts on cost and schedule. HS2 may be a complex project overall, but I think this request is just common sense."

AVDC Leader, Cllr Angela Macpherson, said:

“While welcoming the statement we have to maintain the pressure on HS2 Ltd to ensure that they do respond positively and responsibly to the Transport Secretary’s request – and don’t simply try to suggest that all works are ‘absolutely necessary’.

“Indeed, I would ask the Transport Secretary to go further and tell HS2 Ltd to cease all land clearances, home and business evictions while the current review is being undertaken – and only recommence if the Approval to Proceed is ultimately granted”.

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