HS2: threatened communities come together

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!

Communities gather information on ancient woodland

Communities gather information on ancient woodland

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.

Woodland Trust workshop on Environmental Statements

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.

About Nikki Williams

Head of Campaigning for the Woodland Trust
This entry was posted in Campaigning, Climate Change, Woods Under Threat and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to HS2: threatened communities come together

  1. elasterplaster@aol.com says:

    Hi, could you please let me know when the consultation starts for HS2? We want to hold a local meeting when people can send their objections in.

    Thank you,

    Liz Hurry

    • Nikki Williams says:

      Hi Liz. You dont have long. The consultation opened on 16 May 2013 and runs until 11 July 2013, when it will close. If you need guidance, we do have toolkits on line for responding to the EIA’s out at the moment. You will find the link in the article above. Alternatively, you can take the quick response version on our web site – again the link is above, in the last sentence. Its a good way to involve lots of people quickly, as you can share the link with others

  2. Isabel Clark says:

    I just cannot understand why it is so vitally important to enable a few rich politicians and businessmen to reach their destination thirty minutes earlier.

    Our State Pension is the worst in Europe, people are denied medical treatment considered too expensive by N.I.C.E. and the armed forces are being decimated. What sort of priorities does Cameron hold?!! Would he rather people died from lack of affordable treatment than politicians and businessmen are half an hour later.

    Cameron isn’t even a true Tory (I don’t know what on Earth he is) and you can’t believe anything he says anymore? He appears to be pandering to his rich friends with this unnecessary rail line.
    What about the lives he is ruining, the people whose home is no longer a sanctuary, and the environment. Isn’t he supposed to be keen on the environment with all the green taxes imposed on us?

    This is just sick!!!

    • cn says:

      HS2 is nothing to do with saving a few minutes. It is about updating the infrastructure of the UK. The roads are full and far more damaging to the environment. The railways will be full is a few years. The hugely wasteful upgrading of the west coast main line through Staffordshire achieved very little. HS2 is nothing to do with politics either. It will take at least 3 governments to happen so no votes there. It is all about economic survival of the Midlands and the North. Would you prefer an 8 lane motorway along the same route?

      • Julie Taylor says:

        “It is all about economic survival of the Midlands and the North.” says this cn person …
        I’ve read different … like it’s about taking the economic life and soul out of the North and the Midlands for example. What I do believe, this government won’t be talking about spending that sort of money if it doesn’t stand to benefit their own substantially more than any of us in the North and the Midlands, that’s for certain! We’d much rather actually have a real say in these major infrastructure projects … and particularly on how they affect things that matter to us, like ancient woodland.

        • cn says:

          What is “their own” ? This is a coalition government continuing a project that was started during the last government and which will take another three governments before the project is part completed. Unlike so many things that governments of all colours do this really has no political advantage to it. It’s a sensible approach to the UK in the 2020’s.

      • Isabel Clark says:

        I live in Coventry which is IN the Midlands. The HS2 will pass near Coventry, destroying our local countryside and nearby villages but will NOT benefit Coventry. HS2 will shoot straight on.

        This is just Cameron trying to play with his toys before getting thrown out of office. This will be a memorial to him if it goes through (if that is also what he wants), however, it will not be a favourable memorial.

        What on Earth is this profligacy in a time of austerity anyway?

        • cn says:

          Coventry has had a 30% increase in rail users in the last 2 years. The line from Rugby to Birmingham is two track and there is no space to widen it. HS2 will allow more services to and from Coventry, allow more jobs in the city and allow more people to commute to Coventry. This railway will be half the width of the A45 to Bham.

  3. Rowen wilting says:

    This government does not care about the environment full stop……with their announcement on HS2…….& the announcement that they will make on their plans for the Forestry Commission, will prove this…….watch for the news.

    Rowen Wilting.

  4. Peter Kyte says:

    What planet is cn on? The debate as to whether it is of national importance is highly contentious as there is mixed opinions from all sides. Also you do not win arguments by name calling, which is childish and takes away any credibility related to that viewpoint.

    • cn says:

      I am on the same planet as you and I did not name call. Nimbyism is a word which means a belief in not my environment. It is not name calling. The fact that the anti HS2 lobby is well organised and vocal does not mean it has much support. To build 400 kilometres of new railway is obviously of national importance. This project is as big as the building of many of the original railways in Victorian times. The railway system is full or nearly full in much of the country. Many major businesses are making more use of the railways for various good and bad reasons. We are an island and we do need to move things in and out of our island. We are living longer and want to visit people and places. Platforms are being lengthened and soon that option will be used up. the arguments are social and economic.

  5. cn says:

    HS2 is essential. Railways do not destroy the environment. They disrupt and then enhance it. This project is of national importance and people in Staffordshire have a rash of nimbyism. All the political parties are in favour of HS2 because the UK needs major transport new infrastructure and the roads lobby have failed again and again to deliver promised improvements. New roads have added far more toxicity tot he environment and taken away far more beautiful land.

    • Nikki Williams says:

      Ultimately Government has a duty to ensure that they have done everything they can to avoid destruction of irreplaceable habitats and uphold their position on ancient woodland as outlined in policies such as Keepers of Time and Natural Environment White Paper. In addition, where destruction does occur the best possible mitigation and compensation must be achieved and meet the expectations of their own guidance such as the Defra matrix for compensating for loss of ancient woodland. It is essential that they show leadership as it sets a precedent for developers and Governments that will follow in the future.

      It’s the responsibility of Government to decide whether on balance the economic benefits of HS2 outweigh the impact on our natural environment and irreplaceable ancient woodland. It is our responsibility as an organisation representing the conservation of woodland to object to HS2 on the basis of the damage and destruction to a large amount of ancient woodland that is of national importance – regardless of who’s back garden it sits in.

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