HS2 has apologised to the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) for undertaking work on the Calvert Jubilee nature reserve without permission.
On December 6, HS2’s contractors Fusion moved into areas of the nature reserve with chainsaws and begun clearance works without giving any notice.
It only came to the trust’s attention thanks to alert members of the public who spotted that all was not as it seemed.
The trust said that HS2 had entered around a third of the reserve and had started chopping down trees which housed bats.
HS2 originally claimed the works were “essential” and that they had “full permission of the landowner” to engage in the work.
However in a letter seen by this paper David Bennett, delivery director for HS2 says: “We have been undertaking vegetation clearance activities throughout the first phase of the project, including in the Calvert area over the past few months.
“For any of our works, we would ensure we gained consent from the land owner.
“In this case we believed we were clear who owned the land and we had consulted in advance of these works.
“After further investigation it has become clear that this was based on incorrect information, and this work took place on BBOWT land.
“No further works will take place until a full investigation has been carried out.
“We are sincerely sorry for this work having taken place on land, for which we did not have permission.
“I hope we can rebuild a positive relationship between BBOWT and HS2 as we move forward.”
BBOWT chief executive Estelle Bailey said: “We want HS2 to work to a higher ecological standard than they’ve shown so far at Calvert Jubilee nature reserve.
“It is absolutely nonsensical for irreversible works of destruction to take place while the whole of the HS2 project is being reviewed.
“We expect that HS2 entering our nature reserve and destroying habitat was a one-off incident.
“We are concerned about the threat of extinction of a number of species. as a result of their actions.
“We will take up HS2’s offer to meet with them and we will continue to make a strong case for protecting local wildlife.”