Update (15.10.2020) – HS2 Ltd are currently carrying out ecological surveys using their own ecologists and have not yet confirmed if the felling will be halted. More updates to follow. Please contact HS2 Enquiries to complain that felling cannot go ahead.
Update (17.10.2020) – Leigh Day lawyers have written a second letter to HS2 Limited to call for a halt to works at Jones Hill Wood, Buckinghamshire since the discovery of Barbastelle bats at the location – read the press release here. The Bat Conservation Society also published a statement on felling at Jones Hill Wood.
Widespread jubilation as HS2 works will be unable to continue until Summer 2021.
Days after the eviction of environmental activists who were occupying Jones’ Hill Wood, assaults from HS2 security and arrests by police, the felling of the ancient woodland has halted.
Mark Keir, who has been campaigning against HS2 for many years said:
“We have heard from PC Chalk, Wildlife Crime Officer for Thames Valley, that work at Jones Hill Woods will be suspended until full ecological studies are completed”
Condition 15 of HS2’s class licence (WML-CL40) states:
“All surveys (pre and post site registration) must be undertaken in accordance with the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) Bat Surveys for Professional Ecologists – Good Practice Guidelines and the Bat Mitigation Guidelines (see Information and Advice note f). Surveys must be up-to-date and tailored to each site, taking into account complexity of the structures involved and potential usage by bats throughout the year.”
What this means is that mid-October is long past appropriate survey dates to confirm bat roosts, as bats will now be moving to different roosts for hibernation.
If following the licence conditions for known roosts and likely roosts, HS2 will not be able to begin survey work until May 2021 and these surveys could take several months. Ultimately, if HS2 attempts to damage trees at Jones’ Hill Wood before this process is complete, they may be openly committing an offence.
It is important to note that a bat roost is protected whether or not a bat is present.
“Finally, after 3 years screaming and shouting the police are paying attention to wildlife crimes.
“We would like to thank PC Chalk and Thames Valley Police for their investigation into the evidence submitted to them by local residents.
“We are of course immensely proud and ever so happy over this stay of execution, but this is but one small woodland. Somewhere deep down there is an uncomfortable realisation of the work still to be done over the current 140mile route length.”
This news comes in after an independent team of ecologists recently released a report evidencing a Barbastelle bat roost at Jones’ Hill Wood, Buckinghamshire, one of 20 ancient woodlands targeted for clearance by HS2 from October 1st.
Read the press release from a collection of independent ecologists, legal professionals and on the ground environmental protectors for more information on this.
Verel Rodrigues, of HS2 Rebellion said, “It is important to note that if environmental activists did not raise the alarm as they have been for so long, HS2 would have gone ahead with committing wildlife crimes.”
The woods maybe be safe for now… but the pressure on HS2 needs to stay on.
Please read this article from The Guardian on ‘HS2 may be guilty of committing wildlife crimes‘.
Jones Hill Wood during first few days of eviction – Photos below by Talia Woodin @Taltakingpics
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