High speed rail must not destroy wildlife

Friday 6th January 2012

Woodland by Amy LewisWoodland by Amy Lewis

The Wildlife Trusts are concerned the Government’s proposed route for high speed rail phase one from London to Birmingham will pose a serious threat to wildlife should it get the go ahead.

A decision from the Transport Secretary is expected on Tuesday 10 January.

“The Wildlife Trusts are seriously disappointed with the approach that has been taken in making the decision on the London to Birmingham route. Sticking to the current proposals would be a one way ticket to unacceptable destruction of our natural environment. Said Paul Wilkinson, Head of Living Landscape for The Wildlife Trusts.

“50 ancient woodlands sit along this route. They are irreplaceable habitats which we stand to lose under the current plans. Our research shows a total of around 160 wildlife sites are potentially at risk, along with rare and protected species like the Bechstein’s bat.

Should the proposed route get the go ahead, there are steps that could be taken to reduce negative impacts on wildlife, and The Wildlife Trusts would work to ensure this happens. However, in the case of ancient woodlands or isolated populations of rare species, scope to reverse any impacts would be limited.

Paul Wilkinson continued: “The proposed route for HS2 was decided without an adequate assessment of environmental impacts.

“The Wildlife Trusts recognise the need for an efficient and sustainable transport system and support moves to a low carbon economy. But nature has great value both to the economy and the wellbeing of society. It must not be overlooked in major decisions on built infrastructure. To do so would contradict both the Government’s Natural Environment White Paper* and the UK National Ecosystem Assessment**.”

The seven Wildlife Trusts affected by the proposed route for phase one of HS2 are:
• London Wildlife Trust
• Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust
• Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust
• The Wildlife Trust for Beds, Cambs, Northants & Peterborough
• Warwickshire Wildlife Trust
• Birmingham & Black Country Wildlife Trust
• Staffordshire Wildlife Trust

Read more about The Wildlife Trusts’ position on HS2 at www.wildlifetrusts.org/hs2.

*The Natural Environment White Paper
The Government’s White Paper, published in June 2011, emphasises the intrinsic, economic and social value of the natural environment. It also endorses the need for a landscape-scale approach to securing nature’s recovery.

**The UK National Ecosystem Assessment states: “The natural world, its biodiversity and its constituent ecosystems are critically important to our well-being and economic prosperity, but are consistently undervalued in conventional economic analyses and decision-making.”