A WILDLIFE charity managing several reserves in the Advertiser and Review region has raised a complaint with the European Commission over the Government’s decision to forge ahead with high-speed rail plans.
The Berks, Bucks and Oxfordshire Trust (BBOWT) has taken the unprecedented step over claims the Government has not taken the proper account of the environmental impact of the HS2 line between London and Birmingham.
Phillipa Lyons, BBOWT chief executive, said: “The Government believed it was not necessary to carry out a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA).
“As a result, they didn’t know about the nature reserves the route cuts through, or the precious woodland habitats of Bernwood Forest in Buckinghamshire, where the very rare Bechstein’s bats were discovered by a local bat group.
“The Wildlife Trust has never before been driven to complain to the European Commission, but the refusal of this government to take proper account of wildlife issues when deciding on HS2 is beyond belief.
“Even now it is refusing to take our advice and carry out proper environmental assessments for Phase 2 of the HS2 route.”
BBOWT is working with four other wildlife trusts affected by Phase 1 of HS2, other conservation groups, and the HS2 Action Alliance.
However, the European Commission will not investigate the complaint while UK courts are examining the same issues.
Ms Lyons added: “But by submitting the complaint now, these important issues are on the commissioner’s desk ready for immediate investigation. If the UK courts either refuse to examine them or decide they do not contravene UK legislation, the EC will be able to investigate them instead.”
BBOWT said it raised the impacts of HS2 during the Government’s consultation last year, but said they were ignored when the route was announced in January.