Plans to spend £2million planting millions of new trees alongside the HS2 route has been branded “greenwash nonsense”.
The funding was unveiled earlier today (June 25) as part of a project to create a so-called green corridor.
But the Woodland Trust said the money could not make up for the sheer volume of ancient woodland the railway will destroy as it cuts through the UK, including parts of Lichfield and surrounding villages.
Luci Ryan, an ecologist for the Woodland Trust, said more than 40 hectares of rare woodland will be destroyed by HS2.
“This is utter greenwash nonsense from an organisation trying to pretend that HS2 isn’t the most environmentally destructive infrastructure project this country has seen in decades,” she said. “Some 98 beautiful, rare, irreplaceable ancient woods will be destroyed or damaged by this scheme.
“That’s 98 habitats and ecosystems that support a whole host of mammals, birds, invertebrates, fungi and plants.
“And once that ancient woodland is gone, it’s gone forever, so while planting new trees is all well and good, it’s no substitute for what will be lost.”
The green corridor funding was unveiled by HS2 Minister Nusrat Ghani, who said the scheme was one of “the most significant tree-planting and habitat creation projects ever undertaken in this country”.
But Luci accused those behind HS2 of trying to cover over the environmental impact of the railway line.
She said: “Their plans – which let’s not forget are a condition of the scheme, not being delivered out of the goodness of their hearts – fall woefully short of replacing what will be lost on something being touted as a green infrastructure project.
“None of this new planting will replace the ancient woodland destroyed on phase 1, and the £2m they are making available on phase 2a as part of the Woodland Fund will not replace the ancient woodland they are destroying there.
“This is like smashing a Ming vase and replacing it with bargain basement crockery.”