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HS2's 'irreversible damage' to nature revealed

HS2's 'irreversible damage' to nature revealed

Published by Scarlett Bawden-Gaul at 10:50am 15th January 2020.

Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire's Wildlife Trust is calling for the government to stop HS2.

'Whats the damage? Why HS2 will cost nature too much' is a assessment of the enrionmental damage HS2 will cause.

It assess a broad range of topcs across all phases of HS" and what affect they will have on protected wildlife sites, species and landscape restoration projects. 

HS2 in Buckinghamshire

The report draws on data from 14 wildlife trusts affected by the current plans, as well as charities and landowners along the route. 

It says the current plans will divide and destroy huge swathes of irreplaceable natural habitat and important protected wildlife sites up the length of England.

The wildlife trusts involved, including Berks, Bucks and Oxford, are asking the government to read the review and rethink HS2.

The report finds that HS2’s current proposals will risk the loss of, or significantly impact: 

  • 5  Wildlife refuges of international importance, protected by UK law
  • 33  Sites of Special Scientific Interest which are protected by UK law 
  • 693  Classified Local Wildlife Sites 
  • 21  Designated Local Nature Reserves 
  • 26  Large landscape-scale initiatives, including: 
  • 4  Nature Improvement Areas awarded £1.7 million of public money
  • 22  Living Landscapes – partnership schemes to restore nature
  • 18  Wildlife Trust Nature Reserves – many are also designated wildlife sites
  • 108  Ancient woodlands, an irreplaceable habitat 
  • Other irreplaceable habitats such as veteran trees, wood pasture, old meadows
  • Extensive further areas of wider natural habitat 
  • Barn owls and endangered wildlife such white-clawed crayfish, willow tit and lizard orchid. Rarities like dingy skipper may become locally extinct.

Nikki Williams, The Wildlife Trusts’ director of campaigns and policy says:

“The figures are grim and the reality is worse. The potential loss of so many really important wild places and the wildlife that depends on them has never been revealed before – nor has the damage that will be done to taxpayer-funded, nature recovery projects.

"HS2 will destroy precious carbon-capturing habitats if it’s allowed to continue in its current form – it will damage the very ecosystems that provide a natural solution to the climate emergency. 

“The Government has pledged to create a Nature Recovery Network – a commitment to reverse wildlife’s decline by creating more habitat and green arteries that allow nature to spread and thrive once more. Developments like HS2 should not be a permanent barrier to wildlife – they should be designed to enhance, not harm, the environment. It’s not too late to stop and rethink now – before HS2 creates a scar that can never heal.”

Earlier this week Rob Butler told us he continues to fight against HS2, and has told Sajid Javid alternatives should be explored.

HS2 disagree with the report

The company delivering the project, which is still under review, don't agree with the findings in this report.

HS2 Limited's video talking about their planned 'green corridor'

An HS2 spokesperson said:

"All leading wildlife organisations agree that climate change is the biggest future threat to wildlife and habitats in the UK. By providing a cleaner, greener way to travel, HS2 will help cut the number of cars and lorries on our roads, cut demand for domestic flights, and help the country's fight against climate change.

"The number of sites presented in this report as being 'at risk of loss, or significant impact' simply isn't accurate. HS2 take the environmental cost of construction very seriously.

"That is why we're delivering an unprecedented programme of tree planting and habitat creation alongside the new railway - with seven million new trees and shrubs set to be planted between London and Birmingham alone - new native woodland planted to link up ancient woodland, and tailored mitigation plans in place for protected species."

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