'What’s the damage? Why HS2 will cost nature too much’ is the most comprehensive assessment of the environmental damage that HS2 will cause. It assesses the broad range of impacts across all phases of HS2 on protected wildlife sites, species and landscape restoration projects.
The report highlights 18 Wildlife Trust Nature Reserves under threat, including the Calvert Jubilee Nature Reserve in North Bucks, stating:
“This unique 20 hectare open-water habitat is a haven for large numbers of overwintering waterfowl and wading birds. It supports a range of species including mallard, tufted duck, pochard and bittern and all five UK hairstreak butterfly species. In February 2019, the Wildlife Trust received notice from HS2 Ltd about its intentions to carry out clearance works (for Phase 1) at Calvert Jubilee. The Trust objected on the basis that the works would cause unnecessary and unwarranted destruction of important breeding and feeding habitats for a range of species; and it denied access to HS2 contractors a few months later on account of there being no scheme of works and no adequate mitigation plans. In December 2019 (during the review of the HS2 scheme12), contractors entered the nature reserve and began irreversible clearance of wildlife habitat, without advance warning to the Wildlife Trust.”
The full report can be found here: www.wildlifetrusts.org/HS2-reportDrawing on data from 14 Wildlife Trusts affected by the current plans, including Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) , as well as other charities and landowners along the route, the report shows that HS2 will destroy huge swathes of irreplaceable natural habitat causing among other things, the local extinction of endangered species.
Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin said:
“HS2 Ltd has consistently tried to greenwash the impacts of their planned ecocide and downplay the destruction they plan to carry out, but even we are shocked by the sheer scale of the level of planned devastation the Wildlife Trusts have discovered. The greatest shame is that despite there being a review of the future of HS2, some of the sites they have identified are being destroyed right now, the work has not stopped.”
Nikki Williams, The Wildlife Trusts’ director of campaigns and policy commented:
“The figures are grim and the reality is worse. The potential loss of so many really important wild places and the wildlife that depends on them has never been revealed before – nor has the damage that will be done to taxpayer-funded, nature recovery projects. HS2 will destroy precious carbon-capturing habitats if it’s allowed to continue in its current form – it will damage the very ecosystems that provide a natural solution to the climate emergency.”
Responding to a report by the Wildlife Trust, a HS2 spokesperson wrote:
“All leading wildlife organisations agree that climate change is the biggest future threat to wildlife and habitats in the UK. By providing a cleaner, greener way to travel, HS2 will help cut the number of cars and lorries on our roads, cut demand for domestic flights, and help the country’s fight against climate change.
“The number of sites presented in this report as being ‘at risk of loss, or significant impact’ simply isn’t accurate. HS2 take the environmental cost of construction very seriously. That is why we’re delivering an unprecedented programme of tree planting and habitat creation alongside the new railway - with seven million new trees and shrubs set to be planted between London and Birmingham alone - new native woodland planted to link up ancient woodland, and tailored mitigation plans in place for protected species.”
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