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High Speed 2 Railway (HS2) is a development proposal to run trains up to 225mph from London to the north of England. The section planned within our area is Phase 2B, which will connect the line to Manchester and Leeds.

The Wildlife Trusts are concerned about the impact HS2 will have on the landscapes and habitats and the damage it will cause to wildlife and ecosystems along the proposed route.

Currently we cannot see any evidence of a net gain for nature from this proposal and so we would oppose this development.

Read The Wildlife Trusts’ report ‘What’s the Damage? Why HS2 will cost nature too much‘.

To read more about what we have done in response to this issue, click here.


Chris Packham has published a petition on the UK Government Petitions site calling for all work on HS2 to be stopped immediately and for another vote to repeal the legislation. The petition has gained over 150,000 signatures, more than any previous HS2 petition and it is expected to be debated in Parliament. If you would like to add your name, click here.

Train by Terry Whittaker

The Issue

The new High Speed 2 Railway (HS2) line has the potential to directly impact wildlife in many areas of the region.

The Wildlife Trusts’ report ‘What’s the damage? Why HS2 will cost nature too much’ draws from data from the 14 Wildlife Trusts affected by the current plans, including Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust and other charities and landowners along the route. The report shows that HS2 will divide and destroy huge swathes of irreplaceable natural habitat and important protected wildlife sites up the length of England This will cause permanent loss of nature, increased fragmentation of wild places, and the local extinction of endangered species.

In Sheffield and Rotherham, the proposed HS2 project would directly affect 5 designated Local Wildlife Sites – 3 of which contain Ancient Woodland;

  • Nor Wood and Locks – a Local Wildlife Site and Ancient Woodland Construction of railway cutting and embankments and a viaduct would result in the permanent loss of 18ha of the LWS (31.5%), and a loss of 4.1ha of ancient woodland (12.7%).  This is currently the single biggest potential loss of ancient woodland in Phase 2b.
  • Nicker Woods and Ponds – a Local Wildlife Site and Ancient Woodland to be impacted by the construction of a viaduct.
  • King’s Pond Plantation – a Local Wildlife Site  a mixed woodland and large pond would be affected by a culvert and embankment.
  • Firsby Reservoir – a Local Wildlife Site and Local Nature Reserve noted for birds, including gadwall and willow tit. There could be permanent, adverse effects on the site integrity which is also designated as a local nature reserve for people to enjoy.
  • Hooton Cliff Local Wildlife Site and Ancient Woodland– supporting the nationally scarce large-leaved lime. Without appropriate mitigation, the cutting and overbridge would result in a permanent adverse effect at the county/metropolitan level.
  • with one further Local Wildlife Site and one further Ancient Woodland adjacent to the proposed route. – Foers Wood Local Wildlife Site wet woodland noted for its bat species and Pea Carr Woods – Ancient Woodland

The information for Sheffield is currently limited, with no assessment yet publicly available on the impacts of electrification of the existing line to make it compatible for high speed trains.

High Speed Train by Matthew Black, Creative Commons

Our Position

We recognise that the proposed high speed link could potentially benefit local people and the jobs market, and we are generally supportive of sustainable transport schemes.

However, we believe this must not be achieved at the expense of the natural environment.

We are concerned about the impact HS2 will have on the landscapes and habitats and the damage it will cause to wildlife and ecosystems along the proposed route.

Currently we cannot see any evidence of a net gain for nature from this proposal and so we would oppose this development.

HS2 Updates

Sheffield Mosaic view from Ringinglow

What we have done and will do

On Tuesday 4th February 2020 our Deputy Chair of Trustees Mark Ridler joined a group of representatives of the Wildlife Trusts and other environmental organisations at Downing Street in London, where they presented our petition to stop and rethink HS2 to the Prime Minister. The petition gained over 66,000 signatures with over 10,000 individual comments.

In January 2020 we shared The Wildlife Trusts’ report What’s the Damage? Why HS2 will cost nature too much and launched our petition asking the Prime Minister to Stop and Rethink Hs2.

We have worked with other potentially affected Wildlife Trusts and partner organisations along the route to share information and good practice as appropriate.

In June 2019 we submitted information on potential local opportunities for biodiversity net gain within the scheme to Natural England.

In January 2019 we submitted our response to the consultation on HS2’s Draft Environmental Statement.

In November 2018 we held an information event in Aston for local people affected by the planned route.

In June 2018 we attended a drop-in community information event in Aston to discuss local plans with representatives of HS2.

What you can do to help

Write to your MP

Contact your MP about this and ask what they will do to help.

Donate to our appeal

Support our appeal for funds to vaccinate badgers in Sheffield

Evidence and References

For more information from the Wildlife Trusts nationally on HS2, click here.