The Wildlife Case Against HS2

The route chosen for HS2 passes through irreplaceable natural habitats and unspoilt ecosystems. Constructing a railway line with a landtake equivalent to a four-lane motorway will have a devastating effect on the natural environment in these areas – over 130 wildlife sites on the first stage alone will be directly affected, including 10 Sites of Special Scientific Interest, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and 50 ancient woodlands.

HS2 will cause an unacceptable level of damage to European, national and county-important species. A number of European Protected Species (EPS) are present within the proposed HS2 route corridor, including otter, great crested newt and several species of bats. In addition, nationally protected species such as freshwater crayfish, stag beetle, smooth newt, great crested newt, common frog, slow-worm, common lizard, European water vole, Eurasian badger, rare butterflies and breeding birds are known to be present in the impact zone.

HS2 Action Alliance believes insufficient regard has been paid to the impact of HS2 on biodiversity. Specific concerns at the risks facing wildlife include where the HS2 route is likely to cause direct loss or damage to the wildlife site through land take. This leads to the severance of habitats (causing fragmentation); reduction in size of habitat areas; direct impacts on vegetation and/or sedentary animal populations (for example woodland, and ponds); and/or creation of barriers that affect behaviour of species on a site (foraging, nesting).

A further major environmental concern is the impact of HS2 on ancient woodlands. These are defined as those areas which have been continuously wooded for over 400 years. The communities of species they support, together with archaeological and other historic features mean they are irreplaceable. Their biodiversity value can’t be recreated by replacement planting.

If you would like to know more about the environmental damage caused by HS2, you can download our leaflet here.