HS2 pro­test­ers are pre­par­ing to do bat­tle with the gov­ern­ment in a bid to pro­tect the Chilterns from the im­pact from the rail project. JACK ABELL and LOR­CAN LOVETT take a look into how the line could af­fect wildlife in the county, and what can be done for

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE -

ASK home­own­ers, business own­ers and es­tate agents what their big­gest fear for the fu­ture is and it will not be long be­fore the words ‘high speed rail’ en­ter the con­ver­sa­tion.

Ever since the gov­ern­ment gave the go ahead to the line more than two years ago, cam­paign­ers and pro­test­ers have made their views on the sub­ject crys­tal clear.

We have been told about the im­pact the project will have on the county’s roads, house prices and land­scape, with the line set to plough through the Chilterns Area of Nat­u­ral Beauty.

But it is not just peo­ple who are af­fected. Our wildlife is also in the fir­ing line. Crea­tures face the prospect of hav­ing their homes and habi­tats de­stroyed. Cam­paign­ers are ready to fight for mam­mals, birds and in­sects too.

Con­ser­va­tion­ists will be among the peo­ple set to lobby the gov­ern­ment’s se­lect com­mit­tee early next year to make their case for more pro­tec­tion from the con­struc­tion of the project.

HS2 Ltd says that it is keen to man­age the im­pact on wildlife in the county where it can.

Ad­dress­ing con­cerns about the im­pact on Buck­ing­hamshire’s bee pop­u­la­tion, HS2 Ltd’s lead spokesman Ben Ruse said: “HS2 will be plant­ing new ar­eas of wild­flower meadow to cre­ate rich habi­tats to re­place any of those af­fected by the new rail­way or dur­ing con­struc­tion.

“Wild­flower grass­lands on the cut­tings and em­bank­ments of the rail­way will also cre­ate new feed­ing grounds for the bees.

“This means the amount of bee-friendly plant­ing in the re­gion will in­crease in the long term, which is great for bees and bee keep­ers’ alike.” But what else is at risk, and what can be done about it? We asked en­vi­ron­men­tal groups in the county to have their say. BARN owls, bats and beech trees are most likely to suf­fer the im­pact of HS2, say the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT).

Matt Jack­son, head of con­ser­va­tion at the Wildlife Trust, was alarmed at the gov­ern­ment’s decision to re­ject pro­pos­als from the En­vi­ron­men­tal Au­dit Com­mit­tee (EAC) for greater en­vi­ron­men­tal com­pen­sa­tion, or off-set­ting, for an­cient beech wood­lands such as those in the Mis­bourne val­ley.

He said: “The EAC had called for th­ese spe­cial habi­tats to have the max­i­mum score pos­si­ble to recog­nise that they can­not be re­placed, but the gov­ern­ment states they will not in­crease the amount of new wood­land. This is a bla­tant con­tra­dic­tion of the gov­ern­ment’s aims that new de­vel­op­ments should take the op­por­tu­nity to work to­wards a ‘net gain for wildlife’.

“HS2 trains will emerge from the tun­nel

NEED­ING HELP: un­der Amer­sham into the mid­dle of Man­tles Wood.

“This an­cient wood­land of beech and oak will be dev­as­tated by the cre­ation of the two tun­nel por­tals, and all the an­cil­lary em­bank­ments, cut­tings and earth bunds re­quired to support the track. Typ­i­cal wildlife such as wood­peck­ers and finches, but­ter­flies and bats as well as blue­bells, prim­roses and wood anemones will sim­ply dis­ap­pear.”

Photo by Grant Humphreys www. buyapho­ WL20110459

WHITE ELE­PHANT: Protest over HS2 High Speed Rail out­side Houses of Par­lia­ment

Con­trib­uted/Birm­ing­ham Mail

LOOK­ING AHEAD: (Above) Ch­eryl Gil­lan, MP for Che­sham and Amer­sham, with Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust’s Matt Jack­son in Man­tle’s Wood, one of the ar­eas threat­ened by HS2; (right) a train us­ing the pro­posed route from London to Birm­ing­ham

(Above) Gor­don Cut­ting from Chal­font Bee­keep­ers As­so­ci­a­tion

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