Department of Transport halts felling of ancient woodlands for HS2 project

Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps has ordered removals of ancient woodlands for HS2 be stopped during the independent review into the project - unless they are shown to be "absolutely necessary to avoid major cost and schedule impacts, should the scheme proceed as planned".

Image: Monika Kostera (CC-BY-SA 2.0)
Image: Monika Kostera (CC-BY-SA 2.0)

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.

The review is looking at the £56bn project's benefits and impacts, affordability and efficiency, deliverability and scope, and phasing, including its relationship with Northern Powerhouse Rail.

Local residents and campaigners have demanded a halt to clearances, pointing out that removing ancient woodland is irreversible.

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".

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."

Crowders Nurseries, which is supplying 7m trees and shrubs to the UK's largest infrastructure project, has told HW in August: "As far as I'm concerned it's business as usual. We fully expect all operations currently ongoing at HS2 to continue.

Woodland Trust ecologist Luci Ryan said in response to the pause in removal of ancient woodlands: "This is a welcome step in the right direction for our ancient woodlands, but unfortunately these woods remain threatened as HS2 can still decide for themselves whether works continue or not. Until the outcome of the review all ancient woodlands should be off limits full stop. Our welcome is therefore cautious.

"The fact the Secretary of State recognises that clearing irreplaceable ancient woodland is irreversible is a huge step in the right direction. We hope HS2 Ltd use this time to consider engineering solutions that could save these irreplaceable habitats."

Ancient woodland accounts for 2.4% of land in the UK.  At least 108 ancient woods will be affected by HS2 as a whole. There will be direct loss to at least 63 ancient woods totalling 57.99ha and damage due to noise, vibration, changes to lighting and dust  to a further 47 woods lying on or near the construction boundaries.

Ancient woodlands that will suffer direct loss on Phase 1 are:

 

Name

Grid ref

Loss

(ha)

County

Battlesford Wood

TQ040889

0.08

Buckinghamshire

Pinnocks Wood

TQ060864

0.3

Buckinghamshire

Jones' Hill wood

SP887044

0.7

Buckinghamshire

Sheephouse Wood

SP702233

1.43

Buckinghamshire

Decoypond Wood

SP695239

1.1

Buckinghamshire

Unnamed near Decoypond Wood 1

SP691243

0.94

Buckinghamshire

Unnamed near Decoypond Wood 2

SP691242

0.49

Buckinghamshire

Unnamed near Decoypond Wood 3

SP693239

0.11

Buckinghamshire

Mossy Corner Spinney

SP616343

0.29

Northamptonshire

Halse Copse

SP574417

0.3

Northamptonshire

Fox Covert (Glyn Davis Wood)

SP462536

1.35

Warwickshire

Burnt Firs

SP374652

1.4

Warwickshire

South Cubbington

SP351686

2

Warwickshire

Crackley

SP289742

0.9

Warwickshire

Birches Wood

SP289742

0.6

Warwickshire

Roughknowles

SP288748

0.4

Warwickshire

Broadwells

SP280752

3.2

Warwickshire

Little Poors

SP267758

0.2

Warwickshire

Un-named Wood near Stoneleigh

SP323725

0.2

Warwickshire

Blackwaste Wood

SP271757

1.9

Warwickshire

North Wood

SP190956

1.8

Warwickshire

Walker's Spinney

SP183982

0.1

Warwickshire

Long Itchington Wood

SP388627

 

0

Warwickshire

Unnamed copse of Drayton Lane

SK169002

0.2

Staffordshire

Roundhill

SK157022

1.3

Staffordshire

Rookery

SK152026

1.4

Staffordshire

Little Lyntus

SK136127

1.4

Staffordshire

Fulfen

SK148098

0.4

Staffordshire

Ravenshaw

SK124135

1.7

Staffordshire

Vicar's Coppice

SK110137

0.5

Staffordshire

Big Lyntus

SK131129

0.8

Staffordshire

John's Gorse & Hanch Wood

SK105142

2.6

Staffordshire

Parkhall

SP162908

0.7

Birmingham


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