HS2 and wildlife, what's the true cost?

The path of HS2 goes through over 100 ancient woodlands, a key habitat for thousands of animals. The company behind HS2 has not published any information on the amount of woodlands that would be affected by the project, however independent surveys of the areas have concluded that the number runs into the hundreds.

In 2013, an investigation by the Independent on Sunday found that over 350 sites were affected by Phases 1 and 2: they reported:

“Among the sites that could be directly damaged or indirectly affected are a national nature reserve, 10 county wildlife trust reserves, about 50 ancient woods, 30 river corridors, 24 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs, the highest level of protection) and hundreds of other wildlife habitats. Among the rare or scarce species at risk are the small blue butterfly, long-eared owl, stag beetle, great crested newt, purple hairstreak butterfly and Bechstein’s bat.” - stophs2

Studies from Spanish research institutes have found that high speed rail lines kill on average 36 animals per kilometer per year, the total track length of HS2 when complete will be 530km; So by the time the project is fully completed by 2030 19,080 animals a year on average will be hit by the trains according to these estimates and figures.

But what about CO2? According to the data released by the HS2 project itself, HS2 would never be able to offset its own CO2 usage. We’ve known for years that taking trains and public transport is better for the environment, however in the case of HS2 specifically, the trains would have to be twice as efficient in terms of electricity usage, as well as being significantly faster as they’ve advertised. HS2 have admitted that even after 120 years of operations the line would produce a net increase in greenhouse emissions, even after accounting for the replacement of the ancient woodlands.

HS2 will be a disaster for wildlife, and we’re closely monitoring the situation as things move forward. The facts that are being released by HS2 are changing on an almost daily basis, and court injunctions are clouding the information being released by outside parties.

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