Woodland Trust urges "more rigour" in listing ancient wood losses to HS2 phase 2

As details of the impact of the second phase of HS2 rail project north of Birmingham are published, the Woodland Trust has called on HS2 Ltd to be more rigorous in documenting ancient woodland that would be lost.

Image: steve p2008 (CC BY 2.0)
Image: steve p2008 (CC BY 2.0)

Woodland Trust ecologist Luci Ryan said: "We already know Phase 2a will destroy parts of ancient Whitmore Wood near Newcastle Under Lyme, Staffordshire – the route goes straight through it. And, sadly, we fully expect there to be more.

"However, we sincerely hope HS2 Ltd has learned from its mistakes on Phase 1 and carried out far more rigorous assessments, taking full account of the irreplaceable nature of this precious habitat and the huge variety of wildlife it supports."

She said the environmental assessments carried out by HS2 Ltd for Phase 1 of the scheme between London and Birmingham "proved completely inadequate, with 14 ancient woods left unaccounted for", adding: "It took rigorous checks by the Woodland Trust to reveal these extra woods to be threatened and further lobbying for HS2 Ltd to finally recognise them."

The Commons HS2 Select Committee agreed with the trust's call for an investigation into HS2 Ltd's attempt to prove the scheme would achieve no net loss of biodiversity.

"We expect Natural England to publish a report soon," Ryan said. "Where irreplaceable ancient woodland is destroyed, it is impossible to prove no net loss of biodiversity. Therefore HS2 Ltd must be advised to alter their calculations and admit the scheme in its current form cannot achieve this aim."

The three-volume Environmental Impact Assessment for HS2 Phase 2a (West Midlands to Crewe) has now been published.

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