HS2 and habitat loss: still not good enough

Today we submitted our response to the second Additional Provision Environmental Statement (AP2 ES) and the Supplementary Environmental Statement (SES) produced by HS2 Ltd in response to both negotiation between HS2 Ltd and petitioners, and the completion of further ecological surveys.

None of the changes directly affect National Trust places, but they do have an impact upon wildlife that inhabits some of our places.

Additional Provisions are the process through which HS2 Ltd acquired further land permanently or temporarily for the project, that was not outlined in the original Environmental Statement.  AP2 is needed to grant the required legal powers for those land purchases to be allowed and close to our affected properties in Buckinghamshire (Waddesdon Manor, Hartwell House, Coombe Hill, Claydon House and West Wycombe and Bradenham Villages), and in Staffordshire (Shugborough) contains changes such as:

  • additional land required for a National Grid substation near Quainton
  • the widening of access to Shepherd’s Furze Farm near Calvert
  • additional land take near for access and track alterations at Colwich in Staffordshire
  • additional land required for noise mitigation on the A4010.

The SES and AP2 ES were produced by HS2 Ltd to assess the impact of AP2 and as more ecological surveys have been carried out. The HS2 Select Committee also ruled earlier in the year that all data for European protected species should be made publicly available and some of this data is included in the SES.

Our response includes requests relating to ecological surveys, provision for new species discovered in affected areas, road diversions and that where HS2 Ltd choose not to follow advice in these areas, that they provide justification for not doing so.

HS2 Ltd has not fully accounted for the impacts on several key sites within these additional provisions.  One of which is the relocation of the National Grid substation near Quainton where local ecology will be affected by hedgerow removal.  The additional provisions do not appear to have taken account of the additional species that have been discovered in the area.  These species include Bechstein’s bat and the Black Hairstreak Butterfly.

Bechstein's bat (Myotis bechsteinii) - ©National Trust Images/Bat Conservation Trust/Hugh Clark

Bechstein’s bat (Myotis bechsteinii) – ©National Trust Images/Bat Conservation Trust/Hugh Clark

It appears that despite the two additional species being discovered in the area there has been no further mitigation provided.  There will be 685 metres of hedgerow removed in the area which will reduce the habitat available for the bats to forage in and for the Black Hairstreak Butterfly (a regional priority species).  With the significant change in local habitat, the National Trust and many others including the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust believe it is highly important to further mitigate the negative impacts resulting from the change brought about by HS2 Ltd.  HS2 Ltd has factored in an additional 50 metre of bat structure but this does not go far enough.

Our response also requests that traffic assessment reports are published for the A40 at West Wycombe Village which has been identified as a construction route. It is important that this information is both gathered and published to provide stakeholders with accurate data on current traffic to use when evaluating the impact of construction traffic in the area.  Due to the fragile nature of this historic and vibrant village, increased heavy goods vehicles will have a significant impact on the buildings in the village and its residents.

We hope that our comments will be taken in to consideration and that appropriate and timely action will be taken by Government.


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