Bucks woman named The Guardian's angel for nature campaign fighting HS2

A Bucks woman was this week's ‘Guardian Angel’ in recognition of her campaign fighting to preserve nature in the county threatened by the HS2 project.

By James Lowson
Monday, 25th July 2022, 10:54 am

Carol-Anne O’Callaghan who lives in Lee, near Great Missenden, was this week’s angel winning an award handed out by the national newspaper each week.

The Guardian wants to showcase ordinary people who are making a difference within their communities.

In Saturday’s newspaper the prestigious honour went to Carol-Anne in recognition of her campaigning to protect nature spots close to her home.

Carol-Anne O'Callaghan with her daughter Blaize, photo from Carol-Anne O'Callaghan

Carol-Anne is fighting to protect the trees by her home in Leather Lane, where 99 veteran oak trees stand.

Three were chopped down by HS2 to create a haul road for its project.

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Carol-Anne said: "I am so pleased to be nominated for this award. I have never been an activist before but I just knew that what HS2 had planned for Leather Lane was wrong and I needed to speak up.

As featured in Saturday's edition of The Guardian

"People who have lived here since before the project began were so tired after all the years of fighting against HS2, they didn’t believe that we could have any influence on the outcome for Leather Lane. They needed to be reminded that this was wrong and that by questioning and calling HS2 to account, we could still make a difference to what happened here.”

Carol-Anne’s campaigning alongside work from Lawyers for Nature is credited for stopping further trees falling during that period in 2021.

You can access the fundraising page Carol-Anne has set up that is being used to uncover evidence of wildlife in the nature reserve.

Alongside her daughter, Blaize, Carol-Anne has set up a petition to ‘Save Leather Lane Oaks’ which has attracted more than 43,000 signatures.

She set up Anabat detectors along Leather Lane which registered seven species of bats regularly commuting and foraging in the lane in high numbers.

The former teacher said that her research shows that the endangered Barbastelle bat lives in the area by Great Missenden.

Campaigners claim that, in reaction to Carol-Anne’s work, HS2’s subcontractor EKFB is now carrying out full bat surveys and considering using an over bridge design put forward by petitioners.

The local resident who nominated Carol-Anne said: “When I first met Carol-Anne [at a meeting organised for locals to explain what she was trying to achieve], I met someone passionate about giving a voice to the voiceless, someone not afraid of asking questions and calling out large daunting businesses for doing the wrong thing.”

A HS2 spokesperson previously told The Guardian: “HS2 strives to reduce our impact on the environment, however some trees on Leather Lane are directly in the path of where the new railway will be built.

"From the outset, we have sought to reduce the number of trees that need to be removed, and across phase one we are planting up to seven million trees and will leave behind 30 per cent more wildlife habitats than exist now. There is no evidence of bat roosts in affected trees.”