On Tuesday night I attended The Drayton Basset, Hints and Weeford Community Forum on HS2 in South Staffordshire. The Woodland Trust was invited by HS2 Ltd on the request of Hints and Area Against HS2 Action Group. The villagers of Hints are lucky enough to live in a beautiful conservation area with no less than 4 ancient woodlands within their parish boundary.
I am not very often invited to a pretty wood just for a nice walk and bit of peace and quiet (though such invitations are always welcome!). Unfortunately this visit was due to the fact that as it passes through Hints, HS2 will damage two ancient woodlands: Rookery Wood and Roundhill Wood.
The meeting was undeniably tense and difficult on both sides. The community have so much at stake and HS2 Ltd staff are trying to do the near impossible task of mitigating against the ill effects of approximately 230km of high speed railway. These meetings are still at a very early stage, below are the Woodland Trust’s points I raised:
- Ancient woodland is an irreplaceable habitat, the richest and one of our most precious terrestrial habitats. Please take every opportunity to protect it and improve its ability to withstand the impact of high speed rail.
- Mitigation planting should be happening now to ensure it is effective in buffering and enhancing the remaining woodland. HS2 Ltd have said that planting proposals will form part of the Environmental Statement, due in April 2013. These deadlines keep slipping and in the meantime the opportunity to protect this woodland and protect the views and amenity of local people is being lost.
Please visit our homepage to watch our video on the questions HS2 raises for ancient woodland.
Here’s the view from a local group on another of these events. Have you been to a HS2 Community Forum? What was your experience?