HS2 promises to secure plant stock from the UK

Landscape procurement plans for the High Speed 2 (HS2) rail link project are in their final stages, with the company confirming it wants the majority of the plant stock to be procured and grown in the UK to counteract the risk of disease.

HS2: two million trees to be planted on phase one route
HS2: two million trees to be planted on phase one route

A spokesperson for HS2 said the majority of the trees are to be native or "semi-native", although ornamental trees could be used in urban environments. He added that some seed material will be collected from abroad to ensure resilience to climate change.

But the spokesperson did not explain how that number of plants would be ready by 2017, when tree planting is expected to begin following royal assent. Many in the industry have expressed concern that there will not be sufficient stock in the country by that time, with two million trees set to be planted along the phase one route between London and Birmingham alone.

With the railway set to cut through ancient woodland, HS2 has said it aims to achieve no net loss in biodiversity and it will create new woodland to replace any that is lost. Soil translocation to use seed banks present in ancient woodland soil, translocation of coppice stools and other small trees, and translocation of fallen or standing deadwood would be used to mitigate any destruction of ancient woodland.

The spokesperson declined to answer questions about what form the contract would take. However, Horticulture Week understands that the Government company is considering a contract headed up by one or more large British nurseries with a number of smaller nurseries also feeding in plants. The HTA, Confor, the Forestry Commission and the Woodland Trust have all been consulted. A market day was held in July to inform the industry of the requirements.

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