Reacting to the publication of the latest consultation document, HS2 Phase 2b working draft Environmental Statement, the charity has warned that habitats including rare floodplain grassland in the Erewash Valley and limestone grassland on the western edge of the county could be lost or severely damaged should the route go ahead. Speaking about the consultation, Head of Communications Erin McDaid said: “We completely share the Woodland Trust’s concerns over ancient woodlands, but we are also extremely concerned about the wider impacts on wildlife and wildlife habitats including scarce wet grasslands and ponds in the Erewash Valley and the rare and flower-rich limestone grasslands on the western border of the County. Many Local Wildlife Sites, which are vital to sustaining local wildlife populations, would be irreparably damaged during construction.”
HS2 threatens a host of rare habitats in Nottinghamshire and will damage people’s quality of life
The charity’s expert ecologists will be submitting an official response to the consultation, but it is keen to encourage as many people as possible to take part in the consultation to highlight public concerns for wildlife and the environment. Mr McDaid added: “In addition to designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest, including ancient woodlands, dozens of Local Wildlife Sites will be affected, sites close to where people live, places where people see and engage with wildlife daily – so the impacts will damage people’s quality of life. Responding to HS2’s claims that they will be creating a ‘green corridor’ as part of the mitigation for environmental impacts Mr McDaid said: “Talk of HS2 creating a green corridor is disingenuous in the extreme. Whilst they are proposing significant mitigation, as is legally required, tree planting schemes and other habitat creation projects will not be sufficient to offset the damage caused. The complexity of some fragile habitats will never be re-created and people living along the route will be faced with a loss of wildlife from the local environment for generations to come. We believe that it is vital that people raise and share their concerns before it is too late. The government needs to understand that wildlife is important to a large proportion of the public and the impact of such schemes simply cannot be ignored or offset.”
The Working Draft Environmental Statement highlights a wide range of sites in Nottinghamshire that could be affected including the potential loss of 91% of the Toton Local Wildlife Site as well as loss of 4 hectares of grassland at the Hucknall Airfield Local Wildlife Site - a site already seriously damaged by past housing development. Protected species such as bats, barn owls, great crested newts, water voles and otters will also be affected.”
The report also highlights that construction of the route would have a regionally significant impact on the East Midlands' bat population and deaths of barn owls due to collision with trains could affect the conservation status of the species, which has only in recent decades been brought back from the brink of extinction in Nottinghamshire.
As the latest period of consultation gets underway Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust is frustrated that the true impact of loss of wildlife habitat isn’t being properly considered - Mr McDaid added: “Wildlife sites, some of our rarest species, and the people who care about wildlife will be affected right along the route in Nottinghamshire, but sadly throughout the consultations we feel that HS2 have consistently undervalued the importance of wildlife habitats and been dismissive of the impacts. We also believe that they have failed to appreciate the impact that the loss of wildlife areas will have on people’s lives.”