HS2: Significantly more ancient woodland at risk of being destroyed by rail line than previously thought, says new research

Almost 100 ancient woodland sites, some dating back as far as a thousand years, will fall victim to the first phase of the £50bn line

Jonathan Owen
Sunday 02 August 2015 23:44
Comments
The Birmingham and Fazeley viaduct, part of the proposed High Speed Two rail scheme HS2
The Birmingham and Fazeley viaduct, part of the proposed High Speed Two rail scheme HS2

Significantly more ancient woodland is at risk of being destroyed or damaged by the proposed High Speed Two rail line than previously realised, according to new research.

Almost 100 ancient woodland sites, some dating back as far as a thousand years, will fall victim to the first phase of the £50bn line – known as HS2 – connecting London to the Midlands, according to a study by the Woodland Trust. A total of 83 sites were previously said to be at risk.

An artist’s impression of an HS2 train, due to start running in 2026

Some 14 new areas have been identified by campaigners and were added to Natural England’s Ancient Woodland Inventory last month. They include a number in Warwickshire, including Blackwaste Wood, referenced in the Domesday Book.

Other new areas have been found along parts of the proposed route in Buckinghamshire, Greater London, Northamptonshire, Staffordshire, and Birmingham.

Ancient woodlands are havens for a vast number of species, ranging from stag beetles, bats and bluebells to red kites and woodpeckers.

On the first phase of the route, more than 44 hectares will now be adversely affected in some way – whether by having trees cut down, or damaged due to extreme noise, vibration and other disturbance.

The total area under threat is equivalent to more than 70 football pitches, about a third higher than previous claims by HS2 – that 32 hectares of ancient woodland would be affected.

“That these woods have finally been registered as ancient is both welcome and cause for great concern. Their true value has been recognised and we can now push hard for damage to be avoided,” said Austin Brady, director of conservation at the Woodland Trust.

“Ancient woodland should be top of HS2’s list of habitats to protect, but in driving forward so quickly it is clearly failing to check the blind spots,” he added.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in