So today is the day that we finally got to see the long anticipated (or is that dreaded) route for the HS2 line between Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester.
We have heard HS2 Ltd’s claims that every effort has been made to avoid damaging and destroying ancient woodland. Yet a considerable amount of this irreplaceable habitat will be lost forever.
We must remember however that this is not a not a formal consultation, it is the Secretary of State’s initial preference based on available evidence. This has been published to ensure that officials can gauge the reaction from the public and address key issues before publishing a formal consultation later.
Let’s make ancient woodland one of these key issues! There are currently no mitigation measures in place along the proposed route. Whilst we continue to oppose any destruction of ancient woodland we also need to lobby to ensure that their loss is minimised and that woods and trees are central to the mitigation proposals published in the formal consultation.
The Trust’s Campaigning Team are busy beavering away going through GIS data and the HS2 Ltd’s maps to work out exactly what this route could mean for our woodlands. We hope to have all this information available in the next few days so we can engage proactively with HS2 Ltd to protect these woods. You can read our press release here.
It’s also important not to think of the separate phases as two separate projects. They are both part of the same high speed line, they have simply been considered separately to make the workload for HS2 Ltd and officials easier and the statistics more palatable. Any improvements in the way Phase II is dealt with do not make up for the errors that were made on Phase I.
Please watch this space for updates on our work on HS2 and how you can get involved. We must remember this is not the final route; there’s still lots of work to do to improve the route for the environment and everyone living along it.
Victoria Bankes Price, Planning Adviser