HS2 will cause widespread destruction and fragmentation of vast areas of rich, irreplaceable natural habitat and important protected wildlife sites at a time when nature is already in crisis.
According to a comprehensive assessment of the potential impact of HS2 to nature and wildlife along the proposed route by The Wildlife Trust, an alarming number of wild places will be put at risk including: 5 internationally designated wildlife sites; 33 Sites of Special Scientific Interest; 21 Local Nature Reserves; 693 Local Wildlife Sites; 4 Nature Improvement areas; 22 Living Landscapes and 18 Wildlife Trust Nature Reserves.
Destruction of ancient woodlands
Other significant wild places under threat incorporate 108 ancient woodlands, veteran trees, wood pasture, old meadows and wetlands. Check out the Environmental Destruction page to see pictures of how HS2 has already destroyed our environment.
Ancient woodlands are rare and have been around for centuries but cover just 2% of the UK’s land area – we simply must protect and restore what little we have left. The Woodland Trust, who are campaigning against HS2’s planned route, say that ‘no amount of replanting can replace these habitats’. The undisturbed soils in ancient woodland support complex and diverse ecological communities of plants and animals. They are also home to many rare and threatened species.
Since areas of ancient woodland in the UK are already very small and often surrounded by built development or agricultural land, both of which are inhospitable for wildlife, demolishing or fragmenting these woods will put increased pressure on populations of vulnerable species making them more isolated from each other and less able to adapt.
Protecting ancient woodlands is imperative for human survival too. They are essential in helping us cope with effects of climate change and pollution. Trees and woods store carbon and provide low-carbon alternatives to fossil fuels and modern building materials. They help improve water quality by increasing infiltration of water into soil. They absorb pollutants from the air and water, and act as windbreaks, reducing wind erosion. Trees planted upstream help to stagger the release of flood water, reducing the scale of floods. HS2’s attempts to mitigate loss of woodland has so far been a total failure, with trees planted in 2018 left to die because watering them proved too expensive. The Berkshire, Buckingham, Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) banned HS2 contractors from Calvert Jubilee Nature Reserve as they wanted to destroy wildlife habitats before creating any kind of replacement, leaving wildlife homeless.
Species at risk
Current HS2 proposals will put certain species under threat of local extinction. The Wildlife Trust say that putting these species at risk is contrary to Government biodiversity policies, international obligations and European Law. The species include: the UK’s most threatened bird, the Willow Tit; the globally endangered and European-protected White-Clawed Crayfish and the Dingy Skipper Butterfly listed as being a ‘conservation priority’.
Environmental campaigners at one of the ancient woodlands designated for destruction, Jones’ Hill Wood –the inspiration for Roald Dahl’s ‘Fantastic Mr Fox – have recorded the presence in the woods of a diverse array of wildlife. They have found 43 species of moths; at least two multi-generational families of badgers, which have been living there for over 30 years; countless species of insects and pollinators and 7 species of bats, including the rare Barbastelle bat, listed as Near Threatened on the global IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.
The HS2 route risks pushing nature closer to the brink of disaster, with irreversible damage to biodiversity and carbon sequestrating habitats and possible extinction of local species. Both the Government and HS2 acknowledge that the route cannot be made without far-reaching harm to the natural environment.
We cannot let this high-speed railway go ahead, the devastation and destruction to UK’s wildlife is far too great at this time of ecological and climate emergency.
Read the full assessment by The Wildlife Trust – What’s the damage – Full report
According to HS2’s own forecasts, even over 120 years, its overall construction and operation cause carbon emissions of 1.49m tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. HS2’s construction requires vast quantities of concrete and steel, as well as diesel-powered machines moving millions of tonnes of earth. Read this Guardian article for more information on whether HS2 will cut the UK’s emissions.
HS2 is by far the most expensive high speed railway the world has ever seen – £106 Billion according to the government, but independent experts have predicted up to £230 billion. Tickets will likely never be affordable for the average person on the street. Its projected users will need a salary over £60k/year and most of the economic benefit is heading to London, yet the average taxpayer will contribute over £4k to HS2’s construction. Read more about this here.
The cost of HS2 Phase 1 has risen from £15.1bn in 2016 to £54.5bn at 2019 prices, an increase of 361% – Dissenting Report by Lord Tony Berkeley.
As for Birmingham, HS2 will increase rent prices in Birmingham, pushing low income earners away from the city centre. For the cost of HS2, Birmingham City Council’s budget could have been paid for 124 years. 195 QE size hospitals could be built for the cost of HS2.
The train tickets for HS2 will cost over £240, which means the regular people of Birmingham will not be able to afford the tickets. Only the elite will be able to afford the tickets. Read more about this here.
Each person working on the HS2 rail project costs the taxpayer almost £100,000 on average. The CEO of HS2 takes home four times more than the Prime Minister as of last year – £659,416. Read more about this here.
At £307m per mile of track, can the cost of HS2 be justified? – Read more here.
In addition to the catastrophic environmental cost, the human cost is huge! About 888 homes and 985 businesses are being demolished to make way for the project.
In October 2018, the HS2 Phase 2b draft environmental statement stated that HS2 would permanently displace 19,590 jobs (Table 35, page is numbered 135, or 148/162 in the ‘Route-wide Effects Report‘)
Let’s stop HS2 together!
🌳 🐌🦇🦡🦊🦌🦔🐇🦋🦅🐞 🌳
Join us to stop the UK’s most environmentally destructive project.