HS2 rail link

HS2 is the single biggest threat to the UK’s ancient woods, with 108 at risk of loss or damage. We can’t let this happen. 

Credit: Philip Formby / WTML
Credit: Philip Formby / WTML

Right now, the biggest single threat from development to ancient woodland is the HS2 rail project. Up and down the country ancient woods and trees face the axe to make way for the high speed train line. Currently 108 ancient woods are threatened with loss or damage from both Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the project.

We need your help as first fellings loom near

Preparation work is underway for the first phase of HS2 which threatens to smash through 34 ancient woods.

Between London and Birmingham, these homes to rare and endangered species will be devastated. These habitats cannot be relocated or replaced.

At the same time, the future of HS2 looks shakier than ever. The Prime Minister has called a review into the project as its predicted costs spiral.

We face a terrible possibility

Preparatory works continue ahead of the impending felling of these woods. But with a review due, we could lose these priceless national assets for no reason. They could be trashed for a project that may never happen.

Or worse, the government could decide to cut costs by changing the route and destroying even more ancient woodland.

Woods under threat from HS2:

This destruction cannot be allowed to go ahead

Time is of the essence. We need you to act fast and apply pressure on the government. The people in charge of reviewing HS2 and our transport policies and laws need to realise there’s more to consider than money. Demolishing our precious woodlands is a devastating mistake that future generations will look back on in shock.

We need your help to tell Government:

  • that the review must consider the true environmental cost of HS2
  • to halt enabling works damaging to ancient woodland while HS2’s future is still uncertain.

Enabling works update

We are pleased that the government confirmed on 2 October that work in all ancient woods will be deferred until the completion of its review of HS2, at least. This is the right decision but it has come very late in the day and only after much pressure from the Woodland Trust and many other organisations and individuals like you.

We remain concerned about the fact that HS2 will still be carrying out some work at these sites. The richness of ancient woodland isn’t just about trees. It’s also the vegetation, the soils and the wildlife that makes ancient woodland a special irreplaceable habitat. Work that permanently affects these habitats, like clearing vegetation and evicting bats and mammals, must be stopped too while the review is completed.

It is vital we keep up the pressure.

Our view

While we are in favour of green transport and not against high speed rail projects in principle, we are strongly opposed to the HS2 route.

With at least 108 ancient woods being subject to damage and loss, we consider that the impact of the HS2 route on ancient woods and trees across the UK landscape is wholly unacceptable.

Any transport system that destroys irreplaceable habitats such as ancient woodland can never be called 'green'.

More on the HS2 rail link