But, while the practice is highly dubious, the more worrying question is why – HS2 had publicly committed to translocating soils from this ancient woodland as part of their compensation package. This can only be done when the wood is dormant – late autumn/early winter. According to Woodland Trust, attempting to clear the wood of nesting birds indicates HS2 is intending to fell this wood much sooner, something that would conflict with what HS2 has previously committed to do.
Luci Ryan, lead ecologist for the Woodland Trust said:
“It is alarming that a Government scheme would use such a damaging method. Furthermore, we’re more concerned about why and what comes next? The wood is currently teeming with life – bluebells emerging, badgers busy in their setts and birds prospecting.
“Works should not start until October when the wood is dormant. So, it begs the question, why attempt to prevent birds nesting now unless contractors wish to bring the bull dozers in this spring?
“By employing tactics that skirt the law, HS2 yet again appears to be a cowboy operation. Not an exemplar of best practice expected of a Government-backed project.”
The fight was lost to protect the irreplaceable ancient 2 Broadwells Wood near Warwick, and HS2 Ltd has permission to fell 3.2 hectares to make way for phase one between London and Birmingham.
However, the work should not begin until late autumn when the wood becomes dormant. Allowing for HS2’s unproven method to move the ancient soils is a troubling concept – on top of this, it is also illegal for anyone to intentionally damage or destroy a nest whilst it is being built or in use.
The Woodland Trust is contacting HS2 for explanation. Luci concludes:
“This latest action adds even further weight to the argument for a rethink on the execution of HS2. Bar the outrage of conservationists and members of the public, who is holding HS2 to account?”