HS2 high speed train

HS2 – new report reveals exorbitant cost to nature

A new report published by The Wildlife Trusts today reveals, for the first time, the vast scale of the destruction and impact that HS2 will cause to nature. ‘What’s the damage? Why HS2 will cost nature too much’ is the most comprehensive assessment of the environmental damage that HS2 will cause. It assesses the broad range of impacts across all phases of HS2 on protected wildlife sites, species and landscape restoration projects.

The report 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.

The report finds that nationally HS2’s current proposals will risk the loss of, or significantly impact:

  • 5  Wildlife refuges of international importance, protected by UK law
  • 33  Sites of Special Scientific Interest which are protected by UK law
  • 693  Classified Local Wildlife Sites
  • 21  Designated Local Nature Reserves
  • 26  Large landscape-scale initiatives, including:
      • 4  Nature Improvement Areas awarded £1.7 million of public money
      • 22  Living Landscapes – partnership schemes to restore nature
  • 18  Wildlife Trust Nature Reserves – many are also designated wildlife sites
  • 108  Ancient woodlands, an irreplaceable habitat
  • Other irreplaceable habitats such as veteran trees, wood pasture, old meadows
  • Extensive further areas of wider natural habitat
  • Barn owls and endangered wildlife such white-clawed crayfish, willow tit and lizard orchid. Rarities like dingy skipper may become locally extinct.

And locally, in Sheffield and Rotherham, the proposed HS2 project would directly affect five designated local wildlife sites – three 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 limited with no assessment yet publically available, yet on the impacts of electrification of the existing line to make it compatible for high speed trains.

Liz Ballard, Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust CEO, said:

“This hard-hitting report highlights the potential damage and inadequate mitigation currently proposed by HS2 Ltd locally and nationally. Although we understand that people need good quality transport links we are calling on the government to Stop and Rethink HS2 and asking others to do the same. If HS2 has to go ahead, a new approach is needed – one that, in keeping with current government commitments, takes a greener approach which leaves the natural world in a better state than it was before. ”

The Wildlife Trusts’ report ‘What’s the damage? Why HS2 will cost nature too much’ can be downloaded at HERE!

The Wildlife Trusts are urging people to send a message to the Prime Minister – stop and rethink! TAKE ACTION HERE!

Early on in the planning stages of HS2, The Wildlife Trusts developed A Greener Vision for HS2. This report provides the large-scale thinking lacking from current HS2 Ltd plans and, if considered, could provide the net gain for wildlife that is so vital to allow our natural world to recover. While HS2 Ltd has proposed a green corridor along the route, it is far from adequate and can only be seen as a start to delivering a necessarily more ambitious vision.

The Wildlife Trusts are deeply concerned at reports that HS2 has removed its intention to “minimise the combined effect of the project” on climate change and the environment from its policy.

Photo credit: Nor Wood tree © Dr Nicola Rivers
Nor Wood is privately owned (with public rights of way through it) and we do not represent the views of the landowner.