HS2 Ancient Woodland destruction 'deferred' until winter 2020

The scale of the threat ancient woodlands face
The scale of the threat ancient woodlands face

The Government have issued guidance yesterday that they have taken into consideration the strong public feelings about the destruction of ancient woodlands, and have deferred work at several sites until the result of the HS2 review is known.

The Government have issued guidance yesterday that they have taken into consideration the strong public feelings about the destruction of ancient woodlands, and have deferred work at several sites until the result of the HS2 review is known.

They have said: "We have assessed 11 ancient woodlands, parts of which were due to be affected by preparations for HS2 this autumn. We can confirm that work will be deferred on all 11 sites until the Oakervee Review is concluded.

"We have assessed 11 ancient woodlands, parts of which were due to be affected by preparations to build Britain’s new high speed railway this autumn, during the period of the Oakervee review. Work will now be deferred to Autumn or Winter 2020 on 5 of these sites, and to early 2020 on 6 of the sites.

"We will also take measures to protect wildlife to ensure they are not affected when work begins in early 2020."

Abi Bunker, from the Woodland Trust, said: "This is the right decision but it has come very late in the day and only after much pressure from the Woodland Trust and many other organisations and individuals. We remain concerned about the fact that #HS2 will still be carrying out some work at these sites.

"The richness of Ancient Woodland isn’t just about trees. It’s also the vegetation, the soils and the wildlife that makes ancient woodland a special irreplaceable habitat. Work that permanently affects these habitats must be stopped too while the review is completed."

Five sites to be deferred to Autumn / Winter 2020

-Roughknowles Wood

-North Wood

-Un-named copse off Drayton Lane

-Rookery Wood

-Burnt Firs

Six sites to be deferred to early 2020

-Fulfen Wood

-Broadwells Wood

-Birches Wood

-Crackley Wood

-Unnamed Woodland south of Ashow Road

-South Cubbington Wood

Other essential preparatory works will continue including low level vegetation clearance, fencing and preparation of site accesses including the work at Steeple Claydon which is set to take place today.

Abi Bunker from The Woodland Trust added: "The richness of ancient woodland isn't just about trees. It's also about the vegetation, the soils and the wildlift that makes ancient woodland a special irreplaceable habitat.

"Work that permanently affects these habitats like clearing vegetation and evicting bats and mammals must be stopped too while the review is completed."

The Department for Transport said in a statement: "HS2 aims to be one of the most environmentally responsible infrastructure projects ever delivered in the UK.

"It will be a greener way to travel offering some of the lowest carbon emissions per passenger kilometre, significantly less than cars and domestic air travel.

"Seven million new trees and shrubs, including over 40 native species, specific to each location will be planted as part of the HS2 programme.

"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 will be created. That’s an increase of around 30% compared to what’s there now."