The Woodland Trust has slammed HS2 for ‘disguising the irrevocable loss and damage’ of green spaces such as Decoypond Wood and the nature reserve at Calvert Jubilee.
It says 63 ancient woods along the first phase of the route will be affected by HS2.
Giving evidence to the HS2 Select Committee on Wednesday, the trust accused HS2 of ‘making error after error, using flawed calculations, and using methods that go against government guidance’.
And it implored rail chiefs to think again because the earthworks will result in the permanent loss of 12.5 per cent of Decoypond Wood and birds will be driven out of the Calvert nature reserve. Bat roosts and Hairstreak butterfly colonies will also be affected.
Luci Ryan, ecologist at the Woodland Trust, said: “Despite years of meetings, lobbying, groundwork, research and reams of paperwork provided by the Woodland Trust to HS2 Ltd, they have not only failed to rectify errors in relation to ancient woodland, but even to fully admit them.
“Instead, they’re attempting to disguise the irrevocable loss and damage this irreplaceable habitat will suffer, misleading the government, the select committee and the public.
“In doing so, it could set dangerous precedents that put ancient woodland at even greater risk in future.”
The Woodland Trust says it has uncovered errors by HS2 which are yet to be addressed.
These errors include ‘manipulating calculations’ to achieve no net loss of biodiversity, grading the quality of woodland, calculating the number of trees which will be planted to compensate for loss. It also has concerns that no legal binding promises have been made in relation to environmental work so far.