HS2 announces £2m more for Woodland Fund and full details of its greening plans

HS2 has announced a £2 million extension to the HS2 Woodland Fund alongside further details of its plans for greening along its route.

Image: Tom Butler (CC BY-ND 2.0)
Image: Tom Butler (CC BY-ND 2.0)

The HS2 company published details of its planned 'green corridor' of new wildlife habitats, native woodlands and community spaces in the ‘More Than a Railway’ booklet and animation on its website.

Planting has already started on phase one of the route, after Crowders won the contract to supply up to seven million trees for phase one planting in 2016.

The extra £2m for the HS2 Woodland Fund, will cover Phase 2a of the railway, from the West Midlands to Crewe. The fund is designed to help landowners near to the route directly create new native, broadleaf woodlands and restore existing ancient woodland sites. It adds to an existing £1m fund which opened for applications earlier on this year.

Along the phase one route, which covers 216km from London to the West Midlands, the green corridor will encompass:

  • 7 million new trees and shrubs, including over 40 native species, specific to each location. The new native woodlands will cover over 9 square kilometres of land.

  • Over 33 square kilometres of new and existing wildlife habitat – equating to an area the size of 4,600 football pitches. HS2 said this would be an increase of around 30% compared to what’s there now.

  • Tailor-made homes for wildlife, ranging from bat houses to 226 new ponds for great crested newts and other amphibians.

  • Earthworks and landscaping which will re-use around 90% of the material excavated during construction.

  • The potential to support community projects and develop amenity spaces such as access routes, public parks, open spaces and nature reserves.

HS2 said the appearance of the green corridor will be tailored to the surrounding environment, with native tree species matched to the landscape of the regions the line passes through. It is also aiming for community engagement with local people and organisations asked to get involved in everything from landscape design to tree planting.

Chief executive of HS2 Ltd Mark Thurston said: "Alongside improving connectivity, boosting the economy and unlocking new jobs and opportunities, I’m determined to ensure that HS2 also works for the environment and local communities.

"This starts by doing everything we can to reduce our environmental footprint and minimise the expected impact of our construction work. Longer-term, we’ll be leaving behind a network of new wildlife habitats, woodlands, and community spaces, helping to create a lasting legacy along the route.

"We’ve already got to work by supporting a range of community projects and creating a series of new habitats, including planting over 230,000 trees so far. We’ll be calling on local people and organisations to get involved as the ‘green corridor’ starts to take shape.HS2 minister Nusrat Ghani said setting a new standard for preserving, protecting and enhancing our diverse woodlands and wildlife was "imperitive".

However the National Trust has criticised the plans. Historic environment director Ingrid Samuel called it "a sticking plaster solution.

"If HS2 Ltd really intends to support local wildlife and communities, while integrating the railway into the landscape, then more ambition is required and design of the railway needs to reflect this ambition," she said.

"An increase to the Woodland Fund, and the previously announced funds available to local communities to help with the disruption caused by the construction of HS2, are welcome but on their own are unlikely to be enough to deliver an overall improvement to the environment affected by HS2.  These funds should not be a remedy for poor design of the railway.

"The National Trust has put forward detailed mitigation proposals near our places affected by HS2, such as at Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire, taking a place-based approach to limit the impacts of the railway while creating opportunities for nature, people and the historic environment."

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