Calls to save Frays meadow
‘Precious reserves deserve protecting’
LONDON Wildlife Trust has renewed its plea against a proposed high speed rail (HS2) haul road.
Experts repeated their warnings that HS2’s proposed haul road, as part of their mitigations for the borough, would slice through Hillingdon’s Frays Farm Meadows and Uxbridge Golf Course and ‘devastate’ local wildlife.
Mathew Frith of London Wildlife Trust, who presented evidence at the House of Commons HS2 Select Committee, said: “The importance of Frays Farm Meadows for wild species, such as endangered water vole, cannot be overstated.
“The Meadows are nationally important and a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest, one of only 37 in the entire Greater London region.
“Water vole are now believed to be extinct in nearby Surrey, but they are able to thrive in Frays Farm Meadows because of the relatively undisturbed habitat and the many years of work that London Wildlife Trust and local volunteers have put in to protect the Meadows.”
HS2 had planned to route the new haulage road along the north east boundary of Frays Farm Meadows and into Uxbridge Golf Course.
But the HS2 Select Committee also heard proposals to re-route the road along a disused railway line that cuts right through the middle of the Meadows and along the boundary of Denham Lock Wood, another Site of Special Scientific Interest managed by the Trust.
The proposed haul road will connect with the eastbound slip road adjacent to the A40 at Swakeleys Road roundabout, pass parallel to The Drive, Ickenham, with the northern section cutting through Uxbridge Golf Course and land to the west of Harvil Road.
Members of the The Drive and Harefield Place Estate Residents’ Association proposed an alternative route for the road, arguing HS2’s current solution will cause ‘traffic chaos’.
The Trust warns that such a route would have even more impact than the already damaging north eastern option, cutting the Meadows in half and destroying what is probably the largest remaining sedge fen in London, a rare wet grazing meadow that is home to water vole as well as snipe and slow-worm.
The old railway line also supports large populations of glowworm, beetle larvae that emit a greeny-orange light on summer nights.
The Trust leads guided walks to view the glowworms and recently started work on improving the railway embankment habitat for the beetles and their larvae. Since the 1950s, there has been evidence suggesting a decline in glow-worm populations, not just in Britain, but in the whole of Europe.
Mr Frith said: “We fully understand that local residents don’t want a busy haulage road impacting on their lives and properties and we support their objections to HS2 – but it is vitally important that we do not lose Frays Farm Meadows and Denham Lock Wood to HS2.
“The Meadows aren’t some sort of valueless wasteland.
“They are an irreplaceable remnant of a landscape that dates back to medieval times, providing us with fresh air, helping to alleviate flooding by soaking up excess rainwater, and sustaining a wonderful array of wildlife.”
Mr Frith urges anyone who lives locally to “pull on a pair of boots and take a leisurely stroll” through Frays Farm Meadows and Denham Lock Wood.
He added: “These precious reserves fully deserve our protection and we will do our utmost to ensure that HS2 does not destroy them.”
n UNDER THREAT: The water vole, a species which has made a comeback at Frays Farm Meadows Nature Reserve