Monday, 28 April 2014

Wildlife Trusts set out mitigation vision for HS2

The Wildlife Trusts have published a report setting out a vision for large-scale nature restoration along the proposed high speed route. The Trusts say that the impacts and mitigation measures for line have not been properly assessed and there will be a net loss of biodiversity from Phase 1. They say with effective mitigation, the line could create "a wild green ribbon from London to the north." 

In the Colne Valley, 19 hectares of semi-natural broadleaved woodland, scrub, wetland and grassland will be replaced by just 3 hectares of compensatory habitat – a net loss of 16 hectares.

An earlier report from the University of Leeds for the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) found that the line could lead to local extinction of colonies of the Bechstein’s bat, a protected species, in the Bernwood Forest.

The report sets out an environmental, social and economic case for the government to properly address the impact on wildlife and ecosystems. Mitigation would use less than 1% of the current HS2 budget (£420 million) and the benefits of new areas for wildlife and people would outweigh the costs.  

The Trusts still oppose the line and support the proposals by the Chilterns Conservation Board for a bored tunnel through all of the AONB. However, if the line was to go ahead, with effective mitigation, the project could create “a wild green ribbon from London to the north.” Opportunities for habitat recreation and enhancement undertaken as part of the HS2 programme could be linked to wider efforts by partners to “build ecological connectivity at a larger scale beyond the tracks.”

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