Seven mil­lion trees are to be planted along route of HS2

Min­is­ter says fam­i­lies will be able to en­joy wood­lands for years

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS - by Qasim Per­acha qasim.per­acha@trin­i­tymir­ Twit­ter: @qasim­per­acha

HS2 Lim­ited has re­vealed its plans to plant seven mil­lion trees along the Phase 1 route from Lon­don to Birm­ing­ham.

The route, which cuts di­ag­o­nally through much of Buck­ing­hamshire, in­clud­ing the Chilterns Area of Out­stand­ing Nat­u­ral Beauty, is ex­pected to be given the go-ahead by Par­lia­ment in early 2017.

The seven mil­lion trees and shrubs planted will cre­ate 650 hectares of new wood­land and is be­ing used to re­place lost wood­land and cre­ate ‘green cor­ri­dors’ link­ing iso­lated wooded ar­eas.

Much of the plant­ing will take place from au­tumn 2017 to spring 2018 and the trees planted in each lo­ca­tion will be tai­lored to the lo­cal­ity. This means plant­ing species like Mid­lands Hawthorn and the Black Po­plar, widely con­sid­ered to be the UK’s most en­dan­gered na­tive tree, where ap­pro­pri­ate.

The Wood­land Trust had run a long cam­paign against the route, which it says will lead to the de­struc­tion of 63 an­cient wood­lands.

A spokesman for the Wood­land Trust said: “No green trans­port that de­stroys an­cient wood­lands is truly green. If there has to be de­struc­tion of an- cient wood­lands, we go with the rec­om­men­da­tion of the statu­tory gov­ern­ing body, Nat­u­ral Eng­land’s rec­om­men­da­tion to re­place each hectare of an­cient wood­land with 30 hectares of new wood­land.”

On av­er­age, there are 1,500 trees planted per hectare.

HS2 Min­is­ter An­drew Jones said: “HS2 is do­ing more than any other ma­jor project to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment and leave as lit­tle trace as pos­si­ble. The new wood­land will be man­aged for up to 50 years so that the trees are pro­tected and com­mu­ni­ties will be able to en­joy the new wood­lands for hun­dreds of years to come.

“HS2 is not only cut­ting jour­ney times and pro­vid­ing rail pas­sen­gers with thou­sands of ex­tra seats ev­ery day it is also de­liv­er­ing wider eco­nomic ben­e­fits for the whole coun­try.”

The con­tract has been awarded to Crow­ders Nurs­eries, of Lin­colnshire, which was also re­spon­si­ble for sourc­ing and prop­a­gat- ing tree seed for plant­ing at Queen El­iz­a­beth Olympic Park, in Lon­don.

The gov­ern­ment has also es­tab­lished an ad­di­tional £5 mil­lion fund to cre­ate new na­tive, broadleaf wood­land, and en­hance ex­ist­ing an­cient wood­land.

This is in ad­di­tion to the pack­age of com­pen­sa­tion for an­cient wood­land lost dur­ing con­struc­tion mea­sures al­ready in place.

HS2 Ltd en­vi­ron­ment di­rec­tor Peter Miller said: “Our wood­lands are some of Bri­tain’s most im­por­tant nat­u­ral habi­tats.

“That’s why it is vi­tal that we leave be­hind a pos­i­tive legacy of high qual­ity green spa­ces all along the route.”

Path: A graphic from the Wood­land Trust show­ing the ex­tent to which the HS2 route threat­ens an­cient wood­lands, both di­rectly and in­di­rectly

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