Ancient woodland clearance halted during HS2 review
Transport secretary Grant Shapps has ordered that the clearance of ancient woodland required for the construction of HS2 should be halted until a review of the project has concluded.
Clearance of the woodland will only be allowed if they are absolutely necessary to avoid major cost and schedule impacts, should the scheme proceed as planned.
- Government launches independent review of HS2
- HS2 faces delay of up to five years as budget hits £88bn
The Woodand Trust has claimed that at least 108 ancient woods would be affected by HS2 as a whole, with 63 suffering “direct loss” and damage due to noise, vibration and changes to lighting and dust. There are 34 sites affected in the first phase from London to Birmingham.
Shapps announced the independent review of HS2, to be led by former Crossrail chairman Douglas Oakervee, last month.
Following the announcement, it emerged that HS2 could be delayed by up to five years, while its budget has now spiralled to £88bn.
Shapps said: “There is no sense in hiding the challenges HS2 faces, or masking the difficult decisions that need to be taken.
“So, as Douglas Oakervee’s review continues, we must take a sensible approach and recognise that some works simply cannot be undone later.
“Having listened to the concerns of affected residents and Parliamentary colleagues, I have ordered HS2 Ltd to consider what works affecting ancient woodland clearances can be delayed for the duration of the review. This ensures we avoid irreversible decisions without major impacts on cost and schedule. HS2 may be a complex project overall, but I think this request is just common sense.”