Soil from ancient woodland lost to the proposed HS2 high-speed rail line between London and Birmingham will be relocated to create woodland elsewhere, rail minister Simon Burns has said.
Defending the project, he added: "It will not of course be the same as doing nothing at all and leaving the existing ancient woodland, but I think it is a very good second-best option."
Around 55 hectares of pre-1600 woodland is expected to be lost to the £43bn development, which is scheduled to be completed in 2026.
HS2 Ltd, the Government company that will build the line, said it will "relocate the soil to allow the new area to regenerate naturally into new woodland from the seed bank held within those soils", adding that this would "ensure that the genetic stock of local trees is maintained".
The HS2 project hit the headlines last week when the government announced that the expected cost of building the line had now risen by £10billion to a total of £43billion.