Lichfield’s MP has added his voice to criticism of HS2 Ltd over plans for work on areas of ancient woodland.
The high speed rail project, which will cut through parts of Lichfield and the surrounding areas, will see contractors begin preparation in Fulfen Wood near Lichfield in April.
Conservative MP Michael Fabricant said HS2 Ltd were going against expert advice by carrying out the work now.
“This wanton act of desecration will destroy at least an acre of ancient woodland which contains both common and soprano pipistrelles bats and occasional Myotis species.
“Bat roosts within this wood will be lost to the scheme
“I agree with the Woodland Trust who say that HS2’s attempts to move the soil from five ancient woodlands during April is a ‘futile act’.
“The move goes against both conservation principles and guidance from Natural England.
“Ancient woodland is at least 400 years old and which has remained undisturbed during that period.”Michael Fabricant MP
Five ancient woodland sites will be impacted by HS2, with the other four being Broadwells Wood, Birches Wood, Crackley Wood, and Ashow Road in Warwickshire.
“It’s like getting a bike mechanic to service a Boeing”
Woodland Trust ecologist Luci Ryan said:
“Instead of bursting into life, these irreplaceable ancient woodlands now face imminent death.
“Attempting to move ancient woodland soils from one site to another is flawed. Attempting it in April doubly so.
“Add into the mix that the contractor doing it has never translocated ancient woodland nor visited a translocated site and it’s a recipe for disaster.
“It’s like getting a bike mechanic to service a Boeing.
“HS2 Ltd has admitted it is acting against industry standards by doing the work now, when ancient woodland is bursting into life.
“We are shocked at their approach. Protection of the environment continues to play second fiddle to costs and timetables.”Luci Ryan, The Woodland Trust
The process of translocation of ancient woodland involves moving soils and sometimes coppiced tree stumps to another site in the hope some habitat is salvageable.
But Mr Fabricant said there was little evidence of the method proving successful elsewhere.
“If translocation is attempted it must be carried out in late autumn or early winter when plants are dormant.
“HS2 had previously agreed to do this, but now appears to have changed its mind due to costs increasing and timeframes slipping.
“I agree with the Woodland Trust. We want to see the work halted and carried out at the correct time of year – and preferably not at all.”Michael Fabricant MP