Natural England faces legal challenge for issuing a licence to fell Jones’ Hill Wood and associated regulatory failure

The Jones' Hill Wood Earth protestors are taking legal action against Natural England who have issued HS2 a notice to fell trees in the area.

Wednesday, 14th April 2021, 12:01 pm
Updated Wednesday, 14th April 2021, 12:02 pm
Protests at Jone's Hill Wood have been ongoing for a long period now

Mark Keir on behalf of the Jones’ Hill Wood Earth Protectors has instructed Richard Buxton Solicitors to launch legal proceedings against the licence process of Natural England.

The action is relating to the felling of ancient woodland at Jones Hill Wood near Wendover.

The Jones Hill Wood Earth Protectors say the challenge relates to: "The felling of an ancient woodland, barbastelle habitat and Habitat of Principal importance (HoPI) in the heart of the Chilterns AONB."

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Jones Hill Wood

Natural England granted HS2 a license to start work in the area recently, despite concerns about damage to fragile ecosystems in the area.

You can read the full extent of the damage being caused here.Lisa Foster, Partner of Richard Buxton Solicitors states: “What we see now is a regulatory failure when the licence to fell an ancient woodland, known to contain protected species and accepted to have a rare barbastelle maternity roost, is given consent in the absence of clear evidence the mitigation is appropriate or will work”.

Jones’ Hill Wood, commonly known as Roald Dahl's wood and home of The Fantastic Mr. Fox has been a focus point for flashpoints between HS2 contractors and protesters for a protracted period of time now.

A fundraising campaign received widespread public support in raising £35,000 to launch a legal challenge against Natural England.

A protest earlier last year

Rob Mileto, BSc (Hons) Ecology, MSc Conservation, with 30 years experience in ecological consultancy and Principal Consultant of EcoTech stated:

“The compensation measures proposed for a barbastelle maternity roost are unproven.

"Natural England are taking an unwarranted leap of faith with one of Britain's rarest bats.”

The grounds in the case attack Natural England’s decision to approve felling in Jones Hill Wood which Natural England accepts has a barbastelle maternity roost, few of which are known in the UK, as well as noctule, brown long-eared, Natterer’s, common and soprano pipistrelle bat roosts.

The Claimant Mark Keir is concerned that Natural England is failing to take steps through rigorous compliance checks to ensure the mitigation is being done properly.

The Bucks Herald approached Natural England for comment.

Dave Slater, Natural England's Director for Wildlife Licensing and Enforcement cases, said:

“We do not comment on ongoing legal proceedings.”