HS2 banner graphicHS2 - the countryside at risk (Bluebells: Helen Walsh. Graphic design: www.lonelycottage.co.uk)

Construction of High Speed 2 - a new high speed railway line from London to Manchester and Leeds.


Our initial analysis of the Phase 2 route, which was announced in January 2013.

In January 2012, the then Secretary of State for Transport announced that the creation of a new high speed rail network for the UK would go ahead. The network, known as High Speed Rail 2 (or HS2), will be a high capacity railway linking the North of England to London and beyond, connecting directly to the continent (Via HS1 and the Channel Tunnel) and to Heathrow airport.

HS2 Phase 1 from London to the West Midlands is currently planned to be in operation by 2026. The government has committed to continue HS2 northwards, connecting Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds via two high speed lines running either side of the Pennines. This is known as 'HS2 Phase 2' and commonly referred to as the ‘Y-route’.

In January 2012, following a public consultation on the 'preferred' London to West Midlands route to which around 55,000 responses were received, the government decided to proceed with HS2's Phase 1. At the same time, government agreed that HS2 Ltd should develop proposals to continue the high speed route to link Birmingham and the West Midlands to Manchester and Leeds and a further spur to Heathrow Airport.

The information below covers the Phase 1 route of HS2 and will be updated once we know more about the impacts of the Phase 2 route.

HS2 Phase 1 - impacts on wildlife

Four Wildlife Trust reserves, 10 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), more than 50 ancient woodlands and numerous local wildlife sites lie in the route of the proposed High Speed Rail HS2 route.

It will fragment populations of butterflies, bats and birds, and compromise the natural movements of large mammals such as badgers that cannot cross the concrete and steel barrier of railway infrastructure.

This comes at a time when the Making Space for Nature report called for integrated, connected landscapes to link up and extend habitats for rare and endangered species. The very last thing we should be doing is creating new linear barriers to the movement of wildlife.

Wildlife sites at risk from Phase 1 of HS2

Wildlife Trusts affected by the proposed Phase 1 route of HS2

The seven Wildlife Trusts along the proposed HS2 route have information about wildlife habitats and species affected. You can contact your local Wildlife Trust using the details below.

London Wildlife Trust
18 wildlife sites will be affected including Perivale Wood, established as a nature reserve in 1902 and noted for its bluebells. The Heathrow spur line is likely to directly impact Gutteridge Wood nature reserve and the Colne and Yeading Brooke Valleys.

Contact: Mathew Frith 020 7261 0447 mfrith@wildlondon.org.uk

Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust
The proposed railway will cross the Mid-Colne Valley SSSI on a viaduct bisecting Broadwater Lake nature reserve. The 80 hectare site is renowned internationally for the diversity of breeding wetland birds and the numbers of wintering waterbirds such as gadwall, shoveler and great crested grebe, and summer moult gatherings of tufted duck.

Contact: Tim Hill 01727 858901 Tim.hill@hmwt.org

Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust
56 wildlife sites in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire will be impacted to varying degrees. Of these 29 are of county importance for wildlife and four are of national importance, the very best in the UK. The route cuts right through Weedonhill, Lotts and Pipers Woods, ancient woodland near Amersham; replacing mature trees and established plants with concrete, steel and gravel of a sterile railway. The route will plough through Calvert Jubilee a former clay pit now a nature reserve for vast numbers of waterfowl. Woodland birds, rare butterflies and beautiful orchids depend on the special grassland habitat around the lake which will be devastated by the railway.

Contact: Heather Lewis 01442 826774 heatherlewis@bbowt.org.uk

The Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire
In south Northamptonshire, the route could destroy at least eight wildlife sites of county importance including ancient forests, medieval parkland and limestone grassland. It will damage an important SSSI, and threatens the rare and declining small blue butterfly. A further ten important wildlife sites lie within 500m of the route.

Contact: Brian Eversham 01954 713500 northamptonshire@wildlifebcn.org

Warwickshire Wildlife Trust
Up to 90 sites of wildlife importance could be adversely affected by the direct and indirect impacts of the HS2 route as it cuts through Warwickshire and Solihull. At least 80 sites are of county importance. Five SSSIs are vulnerable to impacts from construction, hydrology or fragmentation. The route goes across numerous major watercourses, ancient woodlands and wildflower meadows, with subsequent effects on their associated species. This could have a significant cumulative impact on the biodiversity of Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull, and could compromise efforts to restore habitats on a landscape scale within five of our Living Landscape scheme areas.

Contact: Stephen Trotter 024 7630 2912 enquiries@wkwt.org.uk

Wildlife Trust for Birmingham & the Black Country
The route will have a significant impact on the Wildlife Trust’s Park Hall nature reserve, a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation at Water Orton. More than 600 metres of viaduct will split the reserve in two, create cuttings through ancient woodlands, realign 1,600m of the River Tame and remove access to the reserve.

Contact: Neil Wyatt 0121 454 1199 info@bbcwildlife.org.uk

Staffordshire Wildlife Trust
17 small sites of ancient woodland, including wet woodlands, will be affected as the route goes north to Lichfield; railway infrastructure could damage the hydrology of this unusual habitat. The Tame valley wetlands, part of the River Living Landscape area, will be damaged resulting in disturbance to protected species such as water voles and great crested newts.

Contact: Sue Lawley 01889 880100 s.lawley@staffs-wildlife.org.uk

The Wildlife Trusts' position statement on Phase 1 of HS2

Click here to download The Wildlife Trusts full position statement on HS2.

The Wildlife Trusts are convinced that:

  • The principles of sustainable development - including the need for efficient and sustainable transport systems and the need to move to a low carbon economy - must not be achieved at the expense of the natural environment.
  • The former Government’s policy document on High Speed Rail (March 2010) significantly underestimated the impact of the proposed route on the natural environment.
  • The current approach to assessing the least environmentally-damaging route is seriously flawed, and that the environmental case for the current proposals lacks clarity.
  • The Appraisal of Sustainability seriously underestimates the environmental mitigation and compensation costs and opportunities
  • Before pursuing either the currently proposed route, or any other high speed rail routes, the Government needs to complete a much fuller and more in-depth analysis of the environmental impact of a new rail link.


FilenameFile size
Complaint to EC over HS2 decision - March 201235.5 KB
Our response to EIA scope and methodology140.2 KB
Leaflet4.08 MB