Our response to HS2 being given the green light

HS2 decision will destroy precious wild places; The Wildlife Trusts call for a redesign

Today the government gave the green light to the High Speed 2 rail project, without even acknowledging the devastating impact on the hundreds of precious wild places and the wildlife that depends on them – that lie in the path of the route. The Wildlife Trusts recently published a report evidencing 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’ assessed the broad range of impacts across all phases of HS2 on protected wildlife sites, species and landscape restoration projects.

“While we recognise the need for sustainable transport solutions, our assessment was that HS2, as it was proposed, did not deliver enough for the natural environment with direct and indirect impacts on Local Wildlife Sites and ancient woodlands in Rotherham, including the biggest loss of ancient woodland in Phase 2b. With Phase 2b now confirmed to go ahead as part of an integrated plan for rail in the north, we would like to see a ReThink to enable a scheme that truly delivers for the natural environment through exemplar route design, mitigation and compensation” said Dr Nicky Rivers, Living Landscapes Development Officer, Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust.

Last week, The Wildlife Trusts – including our Vice Chair, Mark Ridler – delivered a letter to the Prime Minister calling for the project to be reappraised. The letter was signed by 66,000 people. Mark said he was “…excited to meet with representatives from other Wildlife Trusts around the country, all of whom were there to present a petition on a matter of such national importance to the door of the Prime Minister”.

Nikki Williams, The Wildlife Trusts’ director of campaigns and policy, says:

“Nature is paying too high a price for HS2. We urged the Government to re-consider in the light of The Wildlife Trusts’ report which evidenced the serious risk that HS2 poses to nature – and to take notice of over 66,000 people who wrote to the Prime Minister asking him to review HS2. Today’s announcement means that it is more critical than ever that the whole project is redesigned – before HS2 creates a scar that can never heal.

“It is vital that HS2 does not devastate or destroy irreplaceable meadows, ancient woodlands and internationally important wetlands that are home to a huge range of wildlife, from barn owls to butterflies. Green and sustainable transport is vital, but the climate emergency will not be solved by making the nature crisis worse.

“As HS2 contractors get on with bulldozing and building, the public can help wildlife by being alert to works near them. Contact your local Wildlife Crime officer if you believe HS2 Ltd or contractors are undertaking works without permission. Wildlife Trusts along the route will continue to advise and engage with HS2 Ltd locally.”

 

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