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: they are an important part of our necessary transition to a low carbon economy. But we believe this must not be achieved at the expense of the natural environment.
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.
- As it stands, we believe that the approach adopted by the Department for Transport / HS2 Ltd will result in an unacceptable level of loss and damage to existing wildlife assets as well as the loss of opportunities to re-connect and create new ecological networks.
- The gradual loss and erosion of sites adds up over time to a significant loss in habitat and green space to the area. High speed railways are potentially a much bigger barrier to wildlife than existing UK railways, as the tracks are wider and more sterile, sometimes lined with security fencing.
- We are also concerned about the proposed loss of local ancient woodlands. Ancient woodland sites are irreplaceable – once lost they are lost forever. Destruction is irreversible: by definition, ancient woodland soils, wildlife, and historical meaning cannot be compensated for by mitigation techniques.
- However, if HS2 is to go ahead, we would like to work with partners to mitigate the impacts and maximise the compensation opportunities for wildlife.