Today the government gave the green light to the High Speed 2 rail project, despite the devastating impact the scheme will have on nature and wild spaces. The Wildlife Trusts recently published a report evidencing the vast scale of the destruction and impact that HS2 will cause to nature. 'What’s the damage? Why HS2 will cost nature too much’ assessed the broad range of impacts across all phases of HS2 on protected wildlife sites, species and landscape restoration projects.
Dr Rachel Giles, Cheshire Wildlife Trust’s leading contributor to the report, says:
“We remain in favour of sustainable transport but the damage HS2 is likely to cause completely prevents this from being a sustainable scheme. HS2 is highly damaging ecologically and we are concerned that HS2 Ltd. are denying the true scale of the impacts in order to create the impression the damage to wildlife will be limited and localised.
As it stands, HS2 are substantially failing to meet their own target of no net loss of biodiversity. There is a real lack of transparency in relation to the damage they are causing and we fully intend to hold them to account.”
HS2 will have a particularly significant impact upon Cheshire’s water voles, one of the UKs fastest declining mammals. The phase 2a route will destroy the habitat of one of the four likely remaining water vole strongholds in Cheshire risking local extinction of the species.
Last week, Cheshire Wildlife Trust’s Charlotte Harris joined five other Wildlife Trust CEOs to deliver a letter to the Prime Minister urging the government to ‘stop and rethink’ the project. The letter was signed by over 66,000 people 6,000 of which came from across Cheshire and Lancashire regions.
Charlotte commented: "Public support for the campaign has been fantastic, so it is disappointing to see that the environmental concerns we have raised are not being addressed.
The entire line has been given approval but there is now to be another review for phase 2b. We will continue to lobby HS2 Ltd for a redesign of phase 2b and increased mitigation across the entire route.”
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