A few thoughts on High Speed Two

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.

We look forward to seeing the official minutes of the meeting, and you can reach the Hints and Area Against HS2 Action Group via their website.

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?

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About Victoria Bankes Price

I am the Planning Advisor at the Woodland Trust. I work to protect ancient woodland and promote woodland creation through the planning system.
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One Response to A few thoughts on High Speed Two

  1. D. Greenwood says:

    Hi there.

    ‘Mitigation planting’ is a somewhat hollow gesture I feel, from a group who have show no understanding of ancient woodland. It will take at least 400 years for any new trees, or land allowed thereafter to thrive naturally, to become ‘ancient’, as well this is dependent on the survival and return of species which define a woodland as ancient.

    There is no evidence to prove that the damage done to the ancient woodland habitat will be reversible. It’s not merely that a train is being built through it, there is all the construction pressure on the habitat, the pollution and damage to the soil from direct industrial activity. Ancient woodlands are sensitive ecosystems. One such habitat near to where I live is suffering continual loss of biodiversity from human pressure – footfall, recreation, dog-walking. Let’s not forget that through the ancient woodlands affected by HS2 a train will be running every few minutes at 250mph. Though there is no doubt that railway lines can and do provide havens for wildlife, especially in London for example.

    However HS2 Ltd and the ministers involved here have shown little regard for nor understanding of the landscape.

Sorry, comments are closed as we have moved to a new site: https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/blogs/woodland-trust/

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