High Speed Train © Matthew Black

Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust condemns HS2 Phase 2b draft Environmental Statement

On Friday 21 December 2018 the public consultation on the likely environmental impacts of HS2 Phase 2b closes. This includes the route from West Midlands to Leeds, passing through Sheffield and Rotherham.

HS2 Ltd’s own figures for the latest phase of the Phase 2b route show it will have a devastating impact on important places for wild plants and animals. Nationally, twelve highly protected areas for nature conservation known as Sites of Special Scientific Interest, 111 Local Wildlife Sites and 19 ancient woodlands will be seriously damaged.

And locally, in Sheffield and Rotherham, the Trust understands that the new route is likely to impact on six important Local Wildlife Sites and Ancient Woodlands, including:

  • Nor Wood and Locks – a Local Wildlife Site and Ancient Woodland – including the nationally scarce large-leaved lime and true fox-sedge.
  • Nickerwoods and Ponds Local Wildlife Site and Ancient Woodland.
  • King’s Pond Plantation Local Wildlife Site – a mixed woodland and large pond.
  • Firsby Reservoir Local Wildlife Site and Local Nature Reserve – noted for birds, including gadwall and willow tit.
  • Hooton Cliff Local Wildlife Site and Ancient Woodland – nationally scarce large-leaved lime.
  • Foers Wood Local Wildlife Site wet woodland noted for its bat species.

The Wildlife Trusts nationally are challenging HS2 Ltd to create and restore more wild places than are being destroyed and damaged by the construction of the route, and to save irreplaceable habitats like wetlands, and ancient woodlands from destruction.

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

“On the basis of the information currently available, we strongly object to the proposed scheme in Sheffield and Rotherham.

“Whilst we appreciate this is a working draft, the lack of evidence available compared to what we would normally expect to see in an Environmental Statement makes it impossible for us to objectively assess and offer any constructive comment on the proposals. There is simply not enough information available to review the scheme at this time.

“It is also high time that HS2 Ltd met the same requirements of all other developers, as set out in Government policy, to seek a ‘net gain’ for wildlife.”

Locally, the Trust is especially concerned about the potential impact on important priority species in the area, notably bats as well as a loss of access to nature for people wanting to visit Firsby Reservoir.

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

For further information on Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust’s position on HS2 in the Sheffield and Rotherham area, visit wildsheffield.com/campaign/hs2