On Saturday 29th June our campaigning team took part in the StopHS2 Convention, an event aimed at community groups affected by the planned route. Based at the Staffordshire Showground, the irony was not lost on anyone that the beautiful site set within rolling countryside was ear-marked for being carved up by the current proposal. Staffordshire is also going to be in for the longest period of disruption as both Phase 1 and Phase 2 will see separate parts of the works taking place in this glorious county… peace is guaranteed to be shattered!
With around 250 people arriving at the event, we had some fascinating conversations. A story of a HS2 engineer visiting sites and being stunned by the breath-taking beauty of the woodland they are designing to destroy, was possibly the most heart-wrenching. He had never seen an ancient wood before in his life.
We were also excited to meet some new groups who would like our help as the plans move north in to the ‘Y’ route. Communities are increasingly concerned for the avenues of trees, valuable local woods that act as children’s natural playgrounds, favourite places to see wildlife as well as ancient woods which all stand in the pathway of this chosen route for the now £42.6 billion railway line.
The Woodland Trust held two information sessions as part of the event: ‘Identifying the Impact that HS2 will have on the Natural Environment’ and ‘Responding to the Draft Environmental Statement’.
The first session was delivered in partnership with Staffordshire Wildlife Trust. The Wildlife Trust talked about the impact this current route will have on important wildlife sites, both in Staffordshire and the whole length of the line. They talked about the huge amount of devastation that will be caused at both their sites and local sites of interest owned by others.
The Woodland Trust showcased the new Toolkit for Communities. A fantastic (if I say so myself), fact-packed guide to ancient woodland and wildlife that equips community members with the information they need to hold informed conversations about why ancient woodland is irreplaceable. These are aimed at supporting people along the route when attending local community forums or meetings with their MPs. The Toolkit is free to anyone and is complemented by eleven additional factsheets that go into more detailed information. If you want to know your ‘translocation’ from your ‘buffering’ – it’s just a click away.
During the afternoon, we also ran a well-attended session on ‘Responding to the Draft Environmental Statement’ for your ancient wood. Frances Winder, Conservation Policy Adviser and regular on this blog helped community representatives with their individual queries as well as giving top tips for killer statements that all responses to the Draft should hold. If you missed the event, don’t worry, we have it all contained in a factsheet.
As part of the weekend, we launched our new campaign: ‘Break your silence, before they do’. After lots of deliberation, we have had no option but to conclude that the current draft Environmental Statement out for consultation is just not up to scratch… so we need to tell HS2 Ltd just that. Please do break your silence as it’s not just a play on words, it’s an essential action that ancient woodland needs you to take.