HS2 to 'decimate' Buckinghamshire's ancient woodlands, say Woodland Trust

As part of our #EnoughIsEnough campaign to stop HS2, we're investigating the devastating environmental effects the High Speed railway line will have in Buckinghamshire.
Decoypond Wood, Buckinghamshire (Credit: Woodland Trust)Decoypond Wood, Buckinghamshire (Credit: Woodland Trust)
Decoypond Wood, Buckinghamshire (Credit: Woodland Trust)

Today, we're looking at the decimation of ancient woodland that will take place if HS2 is built.

The Woodland Trust describe HS2 as "the biggest single threat from development to ancient woodland."

Thirty-two ancient woods will be directly affected with a further 29 suffering secondary effects such as disturbance, noise and pollution from Phase 1 of the project, that links London and Birmingham.

In total, 108 ancient woods are threatened with loss or damage from both Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the project.

HS2 has to give the Woodland Trust notification of any works within 100m of ancient woodland.

As things stand, we'll see Battlesford Wood, Jones' Hill wood, Sheephouse Wood, Decoypond Wood directly affected by HS2 contractors.

That's not the extent of the damage, however. All of the following woodlands in Buckinghamshire will also be indirectly affected by the works.

These include: Great Halings Wood, Little Halings Wood, Northmoor Hill, Juniper Wood, Bow Wood, Weedon Hill Wood, Stockings Wood, Jenkins Wood, Havenfield Wood, Oaken Corner/Castle Wood, Rushmore, Rowborough Copse, Greatsea, Finemere and Romer.

Lucy Ryan from The Woodland Trust said: " Ancient woodland loss cannot be mitigated because it is an irreplaceable habitat – once it is lost it is gone for good, and it doesn’t matter how many trees are planted it will never replace what is lost.

"The Government recognises ancient woodland as irreplaceable (and therefore so do HS2) so this isn’t just the opinion of the Trust. HS2 is proposing to plant trees in compensation for the loss but it is not enough and they have not done enough to avoid ancient woodland along the route.

"Bats are significantly impacted by the scheme and will continue to be after the scheme is up and running. All bat species in the UK are protected. Species of bird such as barn owls are also impacted.

"Ancient woodland supports over 256 species of conservation concern in the UK so any loss of ancient woodland represents a loss of biodiversity.

"“HS2 is continuing to ride roughshod over precious, irreplaceable centuries-old ancient woodland and in doing so the homes and populations of many wildlife species will be destroyed too. “No amount of tree planting can ever make up for the loss of this precious habitat.”

HS2 have been approached for comment.