Seven million trees are to be planted along route of HS2
Minister says families will be able to enjoy woodlands for years
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