Council slams removal of HS2 Tree Protection Order at Aylesbury Vale woodland

“Yet another kick in the teeth for local people and the environment”
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Bucks Council has slammed the planning inspectorate for overturning a Tree Protection Order granted to prevent work on Aylesbury Vale woodland.

HS2 Ltd successfully appealed the council’s order preventing the project from building a development by Sheephouse Wood in Charndon.

An order was placed in March 2023, with Bucks Council demanding to know why HS2 needed to fell trees in an area of Special Scientific Interest.

Sheephouse Wood Bat Protection Structure designs put forward by HS2Sheephouse Wood Bat Protection Structure designs put forward by HS2
Sheephouse Wood Bat Protection Structure designs put forward by HS2

HS2 has argued that the changes would limited and it was given approval from Natural England. A spokesperson for the project said that the small number of trees that it needs to remove, would be replaced with a wider range of smaller trees and shrubs to improve biodiversity.

This morning (9 February), Councillor Peter Martin said: "We believe HS2 Limited is unnecessarily damaging Sheephouse Wood, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and Ancient Woodland. The Planning Inspector’s decision is desperately disappointing and yet another kick in the teeth for local people and the environment severely impacted by the construction of the rail line."

Sheephouse Wood covers 141 acres and has ancient oak trees, diverse ground flora, breeding birds and uncommon invertebrates living within it.

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Bucks Council has revealed in meetings with HS2, officials said cutting some trees was necessary protect to its Bat Mitigation Structure and remove trees which might block the rail line.

During the six-month period, which the council’s TPO lasted for, the authority claims HS2 did not respond to requests for more information regarding the bat mitigation structure. Specifically, addressing why the trees needed to be felled and the flood risk associated with the new structure.

Bucks Council has announced its four key reasons for opposing the scheme were stopping tree felling, limiting potential flooding, wanting more information on the structure and the earthworks and fencing associated with the project.

A spokesperson for HS2 Ltd said in response: “All leading environmental 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 and help the country’s push to reduce carbon emissions. Instead of wasting public money trying to delay the project, we’d call on the council to work with us to get construction finished as soon as possible and reduce disruption for local residents.”

The Planning Inspector upheld HS2’s appeal believing the tree management, including felling, is necessary and can start. Bucks Council has been granted further scrutiny powers by the inspector regarding the project.

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