The Y, oh Y, oh Y Route (Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds)

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. 

Image: telegraph.co.uk

Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin MP

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

About Kaye Brennan

Senior Campaigner (Policy & Advocacy) for the Woodland Trust and Administrator, 'Woodland Matters' blog
This entry was posted in Campaigning, Climate Change, Mitigation, Woods Under Threat and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

92 Responses to The Y, oh Y, oh Y Route (Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds)

  1. Imogen Radford says:

    All woodland and forest is important, not just ancient woodland

  2. Linda says:

    It would be a lot more useful to a lot more people if the money was spent improving the infrastructure to support the internet.

  3. Bernard Cutting says:

    When driving my car, the faster I go the more fuel (energy) I consume – so how is Hispeed Rail GREEN – the faster they go the more energy they consume – not to mention the energy that will be used in constructing the thing in the first place – will the steel for the rails be British and will the Trains be British

    • Jonathan Austin says:

      Good question!

      • Tim Kemp says:

        G. Robinson has a point.

        If we all want to travel faster and faster and…..you get the point, we are all going to be responsible for the utter detruction of this planet. That this is already underway is so well established now it’s almost laughable that so many of us still don’t get the point. There is ONLY one planet earth and any one who thinks you can keep on and on getting more out of a limited resource is either an economist or a politician, (not my words).

        It has been mentioned above that it would take 400 years for mitigation to work. Even this is not borne out according to research quoted by Oliver Rackham in his book Woodlands. The oldest plantations in this country on previously farmed land still have very few, if any, indicators of Ancient Secondary Woodland.

        James Merryweather has shown that without the prescence of woodland micorrhizal fungi
        (normally destroyed by modern agricultural processes), there is little hope for any mitigating plantation woodland ever becoming anything more than just that. If it even survives and thrives.

        It is not just the Ancient Secondary Woodland that will be lost, so many of our lower and higher vascular plants, beetles, moth, butterfly and other invertebrates, fungi, birds and mammals depend on this habitat for there very survival. Think it through. Say goodbye to plant pollinators etc. Say goodbye to fruits in your garden or crops in the fields.

        But hey, we’ll be alright ‘cos at least we’ll be able to travel faster!

  4. Suzy Tugwell says:

    Isn’t our life fast enough already? Don’t many of us suffer from stress and all its consequences. We desperately need to view life differently, green/slower = calm. Perhaps there is an arguement to save NHS costs, by saving green spaces and trees? Living near where we work is surely the only long term solution as fuel costs are not going to go down, ever. The money should be spent on new ideas to help us use less resources or renewable ones. Getting everyone with a half decent internet connection might help some stay at home? We always need to remember that we are custodians of our planet for future generations, yet we seem unable to curb the greedy few. It should be illegal to take green space unless a similar size of concrete is returned to green space. Environmental issues should be in the hands of experienced scientist,ecologists etc who do not answer to short term squabbling govenments. Sound environmental management requires long term planning and no corruption, by people who know what they are doing. I am
    so frustrated at the stupidity and short sightedness of a few with the power to make decisions

  5. Fialka says:

    Glad to see so many passionate comments, can only add, please keep up the fight and raise awareness of the facts, including whether the new line even reduces travel time substantially. If not then the whole project is a scandal!

  6. I agree with Alex Jones and Zoe has hit the nail on the head – but how can the ‘silesnt’ majority encourage politicians see [the not so in their cases] common sense.

  7. John Doidge says:

    I cannot help finding humour in the way the phrase “reducing carbon emissions” is employed to imply some gesture to common sense. It is a little like the word “development” is used to imply some general benefit to all of planet Earth .These terms simply divert attention from the complete picture . I do not think I have ever heard the word-string “increasing carbon absorption” used in a similar general way. I am sure that the figures can be crunched to indicate that HS2 will reduce CO2 emission but demolishing trees will reduce CO2 absorption. It is analogous to throwing less rubbish per minute into a waste tip . That action does not get rid of the accumulated landfill.

  8. Zoe says:

    Are the government trying to totally wreck Britain? Once those woodlands are gone, they are gone.

  9. Keith Dickerson says:

    I agree that ancient woodland can never really be replaced (at least not in less than 400 years) and so we should insist that alternatives to the current HS2 route are carefully examined and used if the cost is not prohibitive. However, at the end of the day HS2 will save carbon emissions (however you cost it) and so it will go ahead one way or the other. So, if changing the route is not possible in all cases, then we should insist on the maximum possible mitigation measures such as 10 times the amount of new woodland being planted for every hectare of ground lost to HS2. I know this isn’t satisfactory but we should get the most out of its construction.

  10. Mark says:

    I have always wondered why this HS2 money cannot be put towards public (or public-private) high-speed internet schemes, or other communications tech improvements. A huge chunk of the people using HS2 will be doing so as part of a commute. Considering how many people work in tertiary/services industries, there could be millions of people who could work from home if technology allowed them to. And they’d probably prefer it.
    Imagine – rush-hour transport links would be so much quieter, and HS2 might not even be needed. We’d save our woods and natural areas, untold numbers of people would save time and money, and CO2 emissions would decrease.

  11. William says:

    I think most of us agree that what we need are improvements to the existing rail system (the Midland Mainline for instance) rather than a horrendously expensive High Speed link where the cost effective case is very debateable. I recall seeing an HS train on trial passing through Crewe some years ago…only for it to be ditched, along with the depot in Manchester. One wonders why the decision (presumably on cost) to ditch it then has now been reversed…I may have missed something but I thought the economic forecasts were less optimistic today. I’m sure a government economist will tell me I’ve got it all wrong! Good luck WT, don’t let the bureaucrats vandalise our countryside!
    William

  12. The HS Rail link is wholly inappropriate investment. The money should be spent on restoring and re-inventing the branch line system allowing more people to use efficient electric public transport. If we can provide convincing commercial and infrastructure reasoning along side our environmental campaigning there will be more for the media to get its teeth into and more for “opposition” mp’s to campaign for in government.

  13. Mrs Rosalind Thorne says:

    I think the Government is blinkered in thinking that anything new and fast is the answer to creating jobs. Quite frankly there is more than enough work to be done in this country. The state of our roads and pavements up and down the country is deplorable and are in very urgent need of repair. The problem with Government is that they want big projects to make it seem that progess is being made at the detriment of maintenance and repairs. Travelling at fast speeds on a train is not comfortable after a while as it becomes very tiring to the eyes when looking out of the window. The Government say they are environmental friendly until it gets in their way then any arguement is given to achieve their objective. To my mind they remain adamant against the many views expressed regarding the destruction of Ancient Woodlands and other sites of Scientic Interest even though they are supposed to be protected.

  14. Sheila Morley says:

    The whole idea of speeding ever faster is ridiculous. To spend all these billions and to destroy what is supposed to be protected in order to do it is even more stupid. If the Government is so in favour they should put the whole lot underground, and then find private money to pay for it. As taxpayers, we should allowed to say yea or nay to such wanton waste of OUR money. The Woodland Trust will need all the support it can get to fight this and it totally has mine!

  15. I think this rail extension is unnecessary. This is a small country compared France, Germany and Japan.Business men do a lot of work on trains on their laptops so speeding up the journey by 3/4 hour or so will mean they have to do more in their offices. I for one do not want to travel at over 200 miles an hour on a train.The destruction of ancient woodland, peoples’ homes, farms and therefore livelihood is unacceptable.Instead of speeding everything up we need to slow down now, before we are forced to. Annette Hawkins

  16. John Doidge says:

    Makes sense to me. Fast trains pumping more carbon dioxide into the atmospheric gas tip whilst demolishing the very things we have for removing the stuff . Welcome to 21st century common-sense.

    • randall evans says:

      Must be better than flying though!
      Shame the money wasn’t spent improving bottleneck roads bu, of course, our glorious leaders don’t get stuck in traffic jams like us poor mortals. If we need it do it, but quickly so we get the benefit and avoid the expensive wasteful reports that use the trees we want to keep.

  17. Lyn S says:

    Totally opposed to the ‘improved’new track proposed. We NEED to preserve our woodlands for the future for many reasons. The time saved on journeys would be negligable in many cases. What would be of more use would be to improve on what we have, still creating jobs be updating the tracks and some of the ancient rolloing stock. I’m sure Mr Branson would help! Please continue to fight this proposed destruction. Lyn S

  18. Thank you so much for all your comments, it is really good to hear all your views.
    Victoria.

  19. G Robinson says:

    If you have ever:
    Complained about unreliable train services
    Wanted to see more frequent or faster trains
    Travelled by car because the train is slower
    Travelled more than a few thousand miles in a year

    Then you are one of the people demanding the improvements that a new line will offer. It does not make any sense to then object when the government try to meet your needs.

    The west coast line track was virtually rebuilt just a few years back – after years of disruption – capacity was doubled on many services. The next increase in capacity can only come from longer trains. To obtain another 50% increase in capacity will mean EVERY train being 50% longer. ie EVERY station needs rebuilding, rarely is there the space to just extend the platform and more people mean more lifts, stairs, waiting rooms, ticket offices etc. In some cases complete demolition of shopping centres and office blocks will be needed. All the power supplies will need to be upgraded and signalling reworked in many areas. Horrendously expensive, horrendously disruptive and extremely unpopular with everyone affected.

    Longer trains will inevitably be slower. There will be more train to develop faults, more passengers to have problems boarding, slower acceleration, braking etc. etc. Slower trains mean reduced capacity, so you don’t get the 50% extra you expected. And you are still using the existing complex and intensively used track, so no reduction in delays and incidents.

    Finally, another idea for those organisations who are serious about eliminating the demand for more transport infrastructure: Abolish travel expenses. If a job needs travel, increase the base salary but don’t pay expenses. In my experience employees with travel expenses ALWAYS make unnecessary journeys, but would think twice if they had to pay their own way.

    If you really care about our countryside then you have to be prepared to be radical and you have to start by reduce your own travelling. Sign up here…..

    • G Robinson says:

      So it seems none of the highly motivated people responding to this blog are prepared to address the root cause of the need for new transport infrastructure. So you certainly cant expect the many who don’t give a damn about our countryside to make any changes.

      Therefore new infrastructure is going to be needed, be it airports, motorways or rail routes, and you cannot blame the government for trying to provide it.

      No doubt if the new line is delayed or cancelled, that will not stop the very same people from complaining about Britains poor transport infrastructure – there are many such complaints here already.

      You really cannot have your cake and eat it! Personally I am in favour of no new line and everyone travelling less so that the existing rail lines can be re-configured to provide a good, but lower capacity service to all the areas through which they pass. But if everyone wants to keep travelling as they do, then I would much rather have a new rail line than yet another motorway.

  20. Stephen Plowden says:

    None of the arguments for HS2 stand up. Chris stokes has shown that the (implausibly high) official demand forecasts can be provided by removing some bottlenecks on the existing mainline, lengthening trains and changing some first class carriages to second-class. We were told that HS2 was an integral part of the government’s low carbon transport strategy. They have had to drop that argument because of their own reports which indicate that the pluses and minuses on carbon cancel out. I think that is wrong because I think both directly and indirectly HS2 will lead to more carbon emissions from transport, but even accepting the government’s figure it cannot be right to spend £33 billion and do nothing to address the most important problem that we have. HS2 will not reduce the north-south divide; it is much more likely to make it worse. Even if the forecasts on which the cost benefit analysis is based were correct, the evaluation itself fails to follow the cost benefit rules with the result that the benefit/cost ratio that has been calculated is worthless. We need to oppose the scheme root and branch – a good metaphor for the Woodlands Trust!.

    • Randall Evans says:

      To help the north south divide why not build the Birmingham northwards bit first and just get on with it. Why do we pay Dave’s mates millions to run enquiries which delay progress and are then modified by parliament? Just build it, plant new native trees and celebrate.

  21. jeannettedaly2013 says:

    I have been following HS2 online for over 2 years – after spotting an ‘HS2 crosses here’ sign adjacent to acres of market garden outside Lichfield. I have read articles in newspapers and journals by farmers, economists, business people,rail enthusiasts ,(eg Daily Telegraph, Financial Times , Guardian, The Economist). I have watched videos posted online of people whose farmland, homes, communities and livelihoods are threatened by HS2 – for 2 years those who live in the first phase – Euston to Birmingham and more recently the Y o Y routes proposed in January 2013. I have also talked to people who live in Kent and experienced the development of HS2 – who report that their train local services declined with the advent of HS2
    I have also listened to Justine Greening and the current transport minister and spokespersons fromHS2 the business.
    It doesn’t make sense.
    Is it all about opening up the green belt for housing commuters to eg the new Birmingham, Manchester and Sheffield super-stations? People who think that they will get an HS2 local station (apart from the major conurbations) haven’t a hope, because the speed that HS2 has to travel would not allow additional stops – and the provision of local stops would affect the cost benefit ratios. And , as it was explained to me in no uncertain terms by someone from the Alliance – this is not an ‘ordinary’ train line – it’s MASSIVE, the width of Wembley stadium, and the sound when two trains cross is likened to Concorde; The vibrations are said to be such that animals will not be allowed to graze near the line (no jokes about milk shakes please).
    What happened to the arguments about the need to produce more food ? The loss of agricultural land to HS2 must be extensive. Have ‘they’ factored in the economic effect of disruption to local economies during costruction? The nightmare of earth moving machines, road (and rail?) closures – all lasting YEARS. I struggle to imagine getting to and from London via Euston for the 8 years of redevelopment. Lets read again the quote from the contributor above ‘men will keep using up the resources of the planet until the day they realise you cannot eat money’.

    Surely investment in existing lines would make more sense? I live in Staffordshire and two main lines pass nearby – London/Manchester / Liverpool. I have two choices of travelling to London by rail
    1. west Coast mainline – Stafford station a bus ride away One hour twenty minutes to London , just structure the day to avoid peak time and you’ll find empty carriages. WiFi provided, toilets and buffet. Comfy seats.
    2. A cheaper route that takes a bit longer ans stops at local stations, but you can work and make phone calls. Toilet but no buffet – just remember to take your own.
    And I haven’t mentioned trees yet…..

  22. jon grounsell says:

    Your Y oh Y title could not be more apt. The Y route is the wrong route; that is why the previous two consultants on the project did not recommend it and why the RoI (return on investment) keeps going steadily down to the point where it is now unclear if it is break-even.Fast railways do work in other countries, so the fact this is in doubt here is a sure sign things are far wrong. Unfortunately the politicians are already lining up to defend the project and public are lining up to criticise or support it without anyone looking at what it is and why it doesn’t deliver the benefits it was expected to. We could all support progress if this is what the line was. In Scotland we will be taking a serious look at it over the next twelve months and publishing a paper on what went wrong before it is too late. We don’t want another Edinburgh Tram/Scottish Parliament/Forth Road Crossing. We have had quite enough of those for one century. We are no longer a rich country and we can’t continue to waste billions on infrastructure that doesn’t deliver best value to the public. I would suggest that before everyone reading this blog rushes off to defend trees they should first take a cold hard look at the project and its flaws and work out why we are being sold this route at all. We shouldn’t need to waste energy defending any woodlands until we have worked what is the best route for the track north of Birmingham and sorted out the other inherent flaws in the project to date. Don’t leave it to the experts. It was ‘experts’ who told us the Tram would cost £700m, be running in 2011 and that they had learnt all of the lessons from Nottingham and Sheffield about putting tramways in streets. Two years later they are still digging holes, the line has been reduced by half, the budget is up to £1billion plus, it won’t run for another year, and we have been building in a recession with tender prices down 15% since 2008. To cap it all the project that was meant to improve public transport will cause a predicted increase in car traffic. How much more wrong could it get? Once we have a route for HS2 that is viable and sensible we need to start thinking about if it goes near any ancient woodland and how to avoid that, but until then lets not waste energy fighting something that is a lousy business investment that should never have got this far. We need to change how we tackle massive infrastructure projects like this in the UK and recognise that a bun fight about environmental damage is stopping us from seeing the real issue at stake here. Why oh Y indeed.

    • jon grounsell says:

      Sorry, my mistake there, it’s seven years since they started digging up the streets of Edinburgh, not two. We are two years on from when it was meant to be finished!

  23. zctek says:

    Insist that the rail route should have at least half a mile width of woodland stretching along each side of the route where it is not going through built-up areas.
    (I won’t hold my breath until it happens.)

  24. Jonathan Austin says:

    With advancing electronic communications travelling at speed will be no longer be necessary! But oxygen ( and ground water absorption) from mature trees will be essential!

  25. Chris says:

    This small overpopulated island we live on already has road and rail systems that are in dire need of updating. Take the rail system back into government hands so profits don’t go to shareholders and spend some of the HS2 billions (we don’t have) to update the existing system.
    Move into the 21st century and improve the internet facilities throughout the country so people don’t have the stress of a daily commute. Work from home as much as possible, improve quality of life and leave the woodlands to be enjoyed by future generations.

  26. Randall Evans says:

    Just for a change why not celebrate progress and welcome this link provided that any lost trees, ancient and modern, are replaced and wildlife access across the track is designed in.
    I really don’t understand the continual negative correspondence, we need to have HS2 so lets make the most of it, encourage it and reduce the car journeys. Yes we’ll lose a few trees but, with careful consultation, could plant even more.

    Go train.

  27. Chris Sherratt says:

    HS2 will be far to expensive for 90% of the population to use, it is only being built to further increase the North South divide.

  28. Ian says:

    Once again politicians in their ivory castles, come up with yet again a brainless decision. They have no concern for what is in the way HS1, so long as they can carry out the fruitless exercise, they probably have jobs lined up with big companies who will get the work.
    Why, oh why, can they not come up with the proper solution of spending the billions we haven’t got,, on our present rail system. With all the billions, they could modify all the busy routes nationally and build 2 tier carriages. They would then kill two birds with one stone, by taking the pressure off too many passengers and reduce pressure and costs. Oh and to make the project even more financially stable, have all the trains built here and not given to the Germans, as presently happens, This would help reduced employment with less imports, something the Treasury should be pushing for.
    Enough said, in few words.

  29. Yes, we need to bring the transport infrastructure up to date, but we should tailor it to this country’s needs, not ape France, Japan and China. If commuters really have to get from A to B in the shortest possible time, they should fly, or move nearer their workplace. It may be cheaper for them as well.
    Let’s un-Beeching the branch-lines so that more people have easy access to rail travel, and get the heavy freight off the roads and back on the rails where it used to be, away from long-suffering towns and villages. That will mean fighting the road haulage lobby, of course.
    On the subject of Nimbyism, those that use that term are not usually the ones to suffer from the practical consequences of “progress”, be it high speed rail links, motorways or wind-farms.

  30. Roger says:

    what remains of our ancient woodland is very precious, should be conserved and expanded. we can hardly talk to other countries about conservation and bio diversity when continuing to act as vandals and degrading the planet even further. HS2 will be destructive as was HS1. we never seem to learn the lessons?!

  31. brummy says:

    I am fully in favour of HS2. Railways have to follow physical geography and then the social and economic. It is time that people in Britain realised that infrastructure needs to be improved from time to time. This project is equivalent to the Victorian railway expansion. It is overdue and will make far less environmental damage than a road sytem. As we live longer the wish to travel increases. A longer retirement means that people have more opportunity to explore the UK and to meet family and friends more often.
    I think it is brave for the politicians to commit to a long term project like this as they will gain nothing electorially. HS1 was much criticised in its planning stage. Now the residents of Kent and elsewhere are pleased by its facility and employment and society have benefited immensely. The government are spending 16 billion on London crossrail and 5 billion on electrifying the line to Wales. HS2 is much better value in my opinion and yes of course all these figures will change during the length of the project but that is the nature of life.

    • Molly Whiteside says:

      Assuming, by your name you live in Birmingham, this view is quite understandable. It will be easier though not a lot quicker, and will probably cost a lot more, but be more comfortable. But once the line gets further North the benefits lessen considerably. The Dr who wrote from Scotland had a good point, in that it would be far more use to people in the far North to get to places which already have good connections with the rest of the country. The same would apply to Norfolk and Suffolk.

    • Mark says:

      The last I heard was that HS1 was losing money and is being heavily subsidised by the tax payer. It has long been realised that putting ‘tyres’ on rolling stock/locos means that you can speed up and slow down quicker and therefore would be able to make better use of the existing lines with either longer or more trains. And for the money it should be a hovering monorail… :¬D

  32. Dr Dick Morris says:

    Living in the North East of Scotland puts a slightly different perspective on this; we probably do need a high speed line UP HERE to take some of the pressure off the roads and to reduce the stupid need to fly to any destination south of the Central Belt. But all HS2 will apparently do for Scottish services is make them slower.
    As others have said, in a country the size of England, it’s hard to justify the cost and disruption of a new high speed line except as a vanity project for politicians and an opportunity for construction companies to take lots of public money. Current rail systems south of the border probably are nearly at capacity, but building entirely new lines that will not integrate properly with the existing isn’t going to help. When you compare the improvement in motor cars over the last half century with the near stasis of rail technology over the same period, there must be enormous opportunities for new rolling stock and signalling technologies to increase both capacity and real speed point to point. As opposed to illusory high speeds between a very limited set of destinations.
    Of course, with politicians only having a five year time horizon at best, and a desire to ensure highly paid private company jobs once they are kicked out, we can’t really expect environmental protection to get anything more than lip service from them. But we can at least keep shouting.

  33. Peter Kyte says:

    The economic benefits for HS2 do not stack up and even if it goes ahead, the difference it makes to the economy will be far outweighed by the cost of the project and the time it will take for completion. It will cost double the 35 billion estimated at present, do not forget this will mostly be public money being squandered on a dubious political ideal. The fact it has cross party support worries me most of all, it should be left to a public referendum and not short sighted politicians with their business cronies to keep happy.

  34. Ginny Matthew says:

    i am just so sad that wildlife is still not valued as it should be – there is no point in having more transport links if the destinations along the route end up as more ugly, lifeless wasteland – who will want to live or work in this country if we continue to destroy it. Surely it should be possible to put a price of some sort on the value of beautiful countryside for local economies and the value of everyone’s health and happiness, when calculating costs and benefits of these schemes. So we save an hour or so on a journey time – what is wrong with improving the slightly slower route and letting people enjoy the countryside?
    We need to look at why we all have to travel more and more, and do something to reduce the need for endless increases in all forms of travel (except for walking, cycling, and other non polluting forms of transport) including transporting goods, we cannot go on the way we are and hope to leave future generations anything worthwhile.

  35. Maggi. says:

    I agree totally with all the above comments but I think we should also concentrate on pointing out to the government how many European High Speed Trains are losing customers and money due to the high fares etc. I live near an ancient woodland in Bucks and Justine Greening seemed to think it could moved and then replaced, is she totally ignorant or mis informed. We are now going to have a green tunnel underneath the wood instead, which is worse, who is advising them???

    • Richard Urbielewicz says:

      enough is enough i am sick of hearing that more woodland and countryside on our tiny island is going to be destroyed by greedy developers or ignorant politicians and like with the channel tunnel high speed train it will lose money due to too high fares. Also trains are not that environmentally friendly as they still need electricity carbon pumping power stations but trees absorb carbon and turn it to oxygen. The idea of high speed trains sounds good and futuristic but not at the cost of our woodlands, how much more can our dwindling countryside take at an ever growing and over populated country.

  36. John Ellis says:

    Horses for courses. As D J Long says, there are many historical antecedents but none so damaging, in all sorts of ways, as the switch from rail to road on such a vast scale from the 60s onwards. The objections to HS2 must come from as legal a position as possible and from as truly environmental a perspective as possible. Although I see a lot of people above applying the ‘what advantage in travel does this bring’, I do not think that that is the way to protect ancient woodland. There are good things about HS2, such as capitalising on the realisation that we have gone as far as we can with cars and the many people will welcome the convenience of improved trains. It is a case of coexisting: if ancient woodland can be avoided then planners should be persuaded of the environmental benefits of preserving them – and the hypocrisy of establishing SSIs (where relevant) only to destroy them. Pursue the argument that if the train is to be a more environmentally form of travel than the car or plane then one should ensure that the environment is taken into consideration at every stage of the journey. Finally, if any wood has to be destroyed then build into the contract that a corresponding piece of woodland should be planted in lieu.

  37. D J Long says:

    The same problems in the 1850’s, not in our back yard. Beeching was the big mistake, he could not see the big picture, if the Great Central railway has been kept there would be a high speed line NOW, it was built to continental loading gauge, no level crossings and mostly straight. The present lines are full, people will not stop traveling, the traveling public are now using the train as never before. Most of them where electrified on the cheap and are now showing that up. The alternative to HS2 etc is even more motorways and cars. All over Britain as soon as infrastructure needs doing, the griping starts, the W.H.R. in Wales was the same, the wind farms, power stations, need I go on. If you think the HS2 is big job just look on the internet as what was done 1800>. Take a look at the “North London Widened lines” and building ‘The Aldwich’ and before that ‘The Canals’, maybe not trees but the amount of demolition etc!. The trees will have to be replanted if possible, if not woodland will have to be replaced on an advantageous ratio. One local tree officer in West Yorkshire once said to me that she did not want see anything cut down, they are plants! and when they have had their day – so be it. The French are building the extension of the TGV to Rennes from Vitre, so they have chain saws going as I write, no messing about there – this is the ‘line and its started already’. Just thank yourselves that its not another M1 that is being considered, or are you all car lovers. Negotiate the ‘best deal’ you can and move on.

  38. Alex Oliver says:

    I think we all agree where the natural world and heritage is concerned, that alternatives must be considered and used at virtually any cost. I also think we are like-minded enough to realise that we have to unite through whatever bodies and orgs we can in defiance of the thinking that has, in my life’s experience, got worse instead of better. All the government have learned are ever more deceitful ways to get what they want – at any cost. Just as women stood up and said “no means NO’, this entire country needs to put the government in its place. I know their job is hard; but it’s not all about pleasing people. Its about doing the right thing truthfully, not when it can be made to fit their stratagems. Or am I paranoid?

  39. David Allen says:

    The first question that I would like to be asked about HS2 is, would it be viable on billions of private capital? If the answer is yes then let the private capital be found and the Government act as facilitator setting a line which will do little or no damage. I supsect that industry wants to skim of the fat profits without putting their hands in their pockets. Captains of Industry either do not live near to a nuisance or they can afford to move away before it becomes one. Siemens must be rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect. We are surrounded by dishonest projects

  40. In many cases all that is needed is to reopen old railway stations. In some places we could reopen old lines, they might need new bridges and tunnels, but they dont go thru surviving ancient woodland, even though they might have destroyed woodland when first built. No, trains don’t need to go faster, they just need to be reliable. If we know it won’t arrive tlll a certain time we plan accordingly. Trains are of course better than roads and of course there is a limit to how many trains a line can carry. But better engines and better rolling stock can mean longer trains so less need for more. There are some areas which need to br brought into the rail system. Curse Beeching! but that doesn’t mean a new high speed line. Imagination is called for and that is sorely lacking.

  41. Thea Holly says:

    The government’s attitude to our natural resources in this matter is mirrored in its equally appallingly misguided new building policy that ignores the 900,000 empty properties in the U.K. in favour of concreting over vast swathes of our countryside including conservation areas to create yet more new housing estates. Our ancient woodlands and beautiful countryside cannot be replaced. There are other ways forward – if only the government weren’t so avidly listening to the lobbiests keen to simply line their pockets.

  42. Larry D'Eath says:

    I think that the whole HS2 concept is grotesque and an appalling waste of money as well as an environmental disaster. The politicians of all parties tell us they know best, and that it will boost the economy and create lots of jobs, but at what cost? The trouble with politicians is that often it has turned out that actually they don’t know best, and carry on regardless irrespective of public opinion. Only much later, when irreparable damage has been done do they acknowledge that they got it wrong. Facing, as we do increasing urbanisation, as well as the demise of many of our trees, the last thing we need is the wholesale destruction of our precious woodlands. Our leaders will have a lot to answer for if they continue to bull doze through their plans, and future generations will label them as environmental vandals.

  43. Horace Sutherland says:

    Surly to remove these trees for any reason is in breach of the charter for protection of forests signed by King John in 1215. Or is this government going to ignore this charter YES

    • brummy says:

      King John was a poor king and since his time the country and the world has industrialized and before that the feudal system ended.

      • Robin says:

        … and we’ve still got a rubbish government! We’ve already got train lines (I’ve used them) between Leeds and Manchester. We also have facilities for remote working and remote meetings (I’ve used them too). With over-population and over-industrialisation, our environment is severly under threat – we need to stop and think what we’re doing!

  44. Judy Kershaw says:

    I may be repeating what others have said because it is an obvious comment, but….. what commuters need are trains which run on time and link routes together with other trains, planes and buses. These needs are NOT served by trying to go faster. Indeed, other countries are able to make their trains arrive on time by going SLOWER because this gives them the ability to speed up and regain time if they have been delayed on the journey. Once a train is travelling at very high speed all it can do is go slower and then it arrives late. HS2 will not satisfy people who need to rely on our rail services.

    • brummy says:

      HS2 is nothing to do with goping faster. It is about capacity to carry people and freight. It is also about narrowing the north south divide.

    • G Robinson says:

      The complexity and congestion on the existing lines cause delays and slow services. Adding more stops and link slows the trains. Slower trains mean the line carries fewer people and so then more lines will be needed.

      A new line will have minimal junctions, no level crossings, as few intermediate stations, secure boundaries preventing suicides, theft of cable etc. Finally a reliable railway!

  45. G Robinson says:

    Sadly the only way to avoid these schemes will be for people to stop travelling so much. If HS2 goes away, then the case for hugely more damaging motorway schemes and ever more airports will take its place.

    There are huge conurbations on the existing west coast line that have had minimal rail services for the last 40 years because, post Beeching, priority was given to serving more distant destinations. Providing these places with a regular, reliable rail service is the real benefit of a new line, and will help reduce traffic congestion. Without a new line, existing long distance trains must be reduced and slowed significantly if these communities are to get the rail service they justify.

    Will all objectors to HS1 and HS2 please commit to reduce their travelling to less than 10,000 miles a year total (including communiting and work mileage), or if already less than this to 75% of current levels? Only in this way can we hope to preserve our countryside, reduce CO2 emissions and reduce the ubiquitous noise pollution from all modes of travel.

    Perhaps the WT will lead the way by reducing staff travel to the absolute minimum. That should include, for example, recruitment policies that prioritise taking on people who will walk or cycle to work and seeking to shed staff with long commuting journeys.

    Unless people and organisations take responsibility for, and make changes to, their own lifestyle, then the demand for more roads, more railways and more airports will grow. Protesting without making that change is indefensible.

    • Hello, we are working hard to reduce our mileage here at the Trust. We have a green travel plan which is very strictly enforced. You can not have a car parking space if you are not car sharing. For example there are always 3 or 4 of us in my car share everyday. We also use public transport wherever possible to reduce business miles. Unfortunately we cannot restrict recruitment to those people who can access the office by foot or bike because we are always striving to recruit the best people possible. However those with a longer commute generally work at home for a few days a week and only come into the office when necessary.
      I personally have been very impressed by the Trust’s green travel credentials; we really do put our money where our mouth is.
      Thanks, Victoria

  46. Anne says:

    I have found protecting woodland and orchards impossible (but am still trying!). It is no-one’s responsibility…. everyone passes the buck and in the meanwhile the developers move in. Hardly anyone seems aware of the guidance and legislation, which itself it far too weak. Even economists are starting to wake up to the value of the ecosystem – the Government’s own report ‘No Charge – Valuing the Natural Environment’ is a case in point!

  47. Pete Rushton says:

    Give on one hand and take on the other.
    The government has bowed down to public pressure to keep Forests in public hands but then, they’re happy to divide ancient woodlands forever.

    What’s wrong with having a route that avoids ancient SSSI land by digging tunnels & putting money where their mouth is on keeping biodiversity at the heart of their plans. In 50-100 years, there will be another economical reason why the countryside should be carved up again, and so on.

    Why do we have to keep destroying dwindling biodiversity? Why not use money to save and protect the environment, while improving the economic climate of this beautiful island?

    If mananged properly, those wooodlands could provide money to the government for 1000’s of years, that would eventually pay off the costs of tunnelling and provide economic growth in the woodland sector too.

    A bit of joined up thinking is needed in our government if the environment is going to be considered important enough, before somebody’s bank balance, with an offshore account & no UK tax bill!

  48. Ian Dickson says:

    Hundreds upon hundreds of years of natural development, only to be wiped out for the sake of getting there a few minutes earlier. Such stupidity and insensitivity for our natural habitat you could not make up!

    • Sue Wight says:

      Succinctly put Ian – here’s hoping that people power can help to highlight the narrow thinking. Progress and financial recovery, Yes – but not at any cost.

  49. Jane says:

    Hearing about the idea of this superfast train service makes me sad & angry- sad that people feel they have to get everywhere/do everything faster & faster; sad that there is so little regard from certain quarters about the ancient woodlands, fantastic scenery & nature that we should be preserving rather than destroying(mankind again not caring about the things God made for us to look after); angry that millions of £s will be spent just to please a comparative few people on something that the majority of Brittish people will never use, when the economy is in sorry state & cuts are made instead to helathcare, care for special people with disabilities & learning difficulties; angry that decisions on things like this are made by a few people with no real consultation! Let’s hope more of the general public will make their feelings known.

    • a martin says:

      we in this country need an updated rail service and a high speed one and we also need to protect our ancient woods but we can only get the economy going by investing in the future or this country will be dead in the water and our poverty levels will increase. This is not about a few people this is about getting a country back on track ( no pun intended ). The backward thinking that you have is shocking and if that is the kind of thinking that most people have that are against the railway, then i for one will avoid you like the plague, my only concern is the preservation of the ancient woods and not a self serving wish to avoid progress

      • Bernard Cutting says:

        Sorry Martin Jane was right – who says we need a high speed one if it serves no real purpose – to me it is a touch of the “spanish disease” – other Countries have one so we must have one – this money is better spent elsewhere if at all – how can you kick start an economy by wasting money BenC

      • Molly Whiteside says:

        We live in a reasonably sized town, 20 miles from Sheffield where the HS2 is planned to go. It takes under 2 hours to get to London but would take upwards of 2.5 hours were we to go to Sheffield to get the HS2 to London. And the train to Sheffield is late, more often thanm not! This will be the same for 3/4 of the population, so what’s the point? They keep trying to move businesses out of London, so why make it quicker to get there. Most people will try to move to nearer where they work because transport costs are so dear, so there’ll be no need for HS2. It is about 50 years too late. The train hasn’t been built yet, yet woodlands, houses people, farms and wildlife are all being blighted by something that probably won’t be around for anoher 50 years. We need the present system upgrading and sorting…not HS2

      • Mark says:

        Railways are a backward look at transport and infrastructure, not progressive. Who needs to go anywhere 40 minutes sooner? Should invest in high speed gigabit internet, so everybody can benefit. It would be a much bigger boost to the economy than an outmoded form of transport.

  50. Eric Elsworth says:

    Not only does this scheme destroy peoples lives, flora and fauna habitats, and so many ancient woodlands, but in my opinion it will by the time it’s completed be outdated and waiting for another Beeching. People will have changed their working habits and will be commuting far less.

    • Eileen Sephton says:

      I agree. One day we will realise what a lot of problems are caused by everyone being expected to travel at the same time. I sat on an empty train last week at 11 am.

  51. Pingback: Frustrations of a Rookie Campaigner- Thoughts on HS2 | Woodland Matters

  52. If our experience on Phase 1 is anything to go by then we are all in for a long and tiring fight. As per P1 you will be told this is a consultation not a referendum! National Protection counts for nothing in the fight as this is in “The National Interest”. The description of NIMBY and Tree-huggers will be applied and the argument that you are luddites more interested in trees than jobs and growth.
    PLease Please ignore this and fight until this project is killed off or follows a more environmentally friendly course, already you have curves in the route which we in P1 were denied in the interest of speed( very green ) just keep up the pressure on HS2Ltd and DfT. They know nothing about the environment save concrete is best. Good luck to you and us all,keep on fighting!

  53. I agree totally with Alan, you can’t just scar the countryside with little or no long term impact on the delicate balance of the ecosystems in our ancient woodlands and countryside. We owe it to the generations who have looked after them so we can enjoy what is left to preseve the best of what we see and so often take for granted. I am reminded of the old “north american indian” saying that “men will keep using up the resources of the planet until the day they realise you cannot eat money”.

  54. Alan Gee says:

    I just can’t believe we effectively helped to save the woodland and forests only for the Government to then cut through them with a railway line to help someone save a few minutes on a train journey. In some parts there are embankments raised over 13 metres just to the line then you have the electric pylons on top of that – and thats cutting through woodland! Its not even though there is any economic benefit thats been proved. In Staffordshire it will actually take longer – it only takes 1hr 17 mins to London now from Stafford and this is north of the Midlands! I heard today even by their own admission that HS2 will not bring about any benefit, its just scandalous. There are still people who think HS2 will be good for Britain, they must be seriously ignorant of the facts and hoodwinked by those who want to build a nice big brash railway, for themselves. Please woodland trust help to do something about this!

  55. mike says:

    http://soundcloud.com/robert-gielas/from-a-railway-carriage life’s ultimate destination is death, and in the race to the goal, don’t neglect the scenery!…ancient trees like buttons fastening the vestment of landscape to the earth, are passive reminders of our mortality…

  56. I agree with all you say. If the government is so ignorant about ancient woodland that they suggest it can be transplanted, why would they care about woodlands on this extended route?
    I’ve tweeted the post and forwarded it to Facebook and LinkedIn.

    • Thanks for spreading the word Andrea. We are working on setting the case straight on translocating ancient woodland, it can’t be done, it is not recreating an irreplaceable habitat, it is just a salvage job!

  57. Moray says:

    Hopefully ancient , veteran and notable individual trees as shown on the excellent Ancient Tree Hunt database will be part of the constraints check done. These are as important as ancient woodland.

    • Hi Moray, we are initially wading through the maps to work out exactly how many ancient woodlands will be destroyed. Once that is done will go into more detail analysing the impact of the route on specific woodlands. It is harder to map the impact on notable ancient trees but we will be doing our very best. Glad you like the Ancient Tree Hunt database, it is a brilliant tool for working these things out. We also rely on local communities to bring at risk ancient trees to our attention, so if you know of any please let us know! Thanks.

      • wildelycreative says:

        Instead of wading through the map to identify how many ancient woodlands WILL be destroyed why not fight the government and say NO to HS2 instead of rolling over and waiting for biodiversity offsetting belly rubs off Dave? As an outsider that’s all that seems to be happening.

    • Rose says:

      We have a champion tree on our patch (phase 1) which would have to be removed: it’s right in the path of the proposed line and deep cutting. ‘They’ are looking at ways to preserve it or at least its stock: by moving it (yes,they are serious, a 200+ year old tree!) or grafting or both. ‘We’ have asked for a tunnel under tree and adjacent ancient wood. It is likely to come down to cost – always assuming ‘they’ conjure up the money to pay for the project in the first place.

  58. Alex Jones says:

    For a start this is bad economic strategy to build new expensive infrastructure in a global economic crisis via more public debt. Better to invest in repair and maintenance of existing transport structure.

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