“Act of betrayal” over work to remove soils from ancient woodland

Staffordshire Wildlife Trust says it is an “act of betrayal” that work to remove soils from an ancient woodland in the county at a devastating time of the year for wildlife is set to take place.

It was hoped an injunction would be granted to halt work at Fulfen Wood in Staffordshire, which has been delayed to springtime from late autumn last year.

But judges denied the injunction following a hearing on Friday morning (April 3rd).

Fulfen Wood is an ancient woodland between Huddleford and Lichfield in Staffordshire, just north of the existing West Coast Mainline railway.

The controversial ‘translocation’ work, which also involves felling dozens of trees, was due to begin in late autumn to avoid nesting birds and disturbance to a whole host of other species, as well as giving replanted woodland flowers the best chance of survival. The work was due to take place at five woods: four in Warwickshire and at Fulfen Wood.

However, HS2 Ltd have proposed to carry out the work during springtime, a vital and important time for wildlife.

The Trust has been working alongside Chris Packham’s legal team, who had been battling to get the immediate injunction granted, after expressing deep concerns that the irreplaceable woodland would be lost forever. Ecologicial data to support Mr Packham’s challenge was submitted by the Trust.

The Trust, the county’s largest nature conservation charity, has been fighting against the impacts of HS2 on wildlife and hugely important sites across Staffordshire for over a decade.

The charity also expressed its worry about the timing of the work, when the country is in lockdown and being urged to stay at home due to the coronavirus pandemic.

David Cadman, Senior Conservation Manager for Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, said: “It certainly feels like an act of betrayal from the Government that the work is being allowed to take place at such a tragic and unprecedented time for the country.

“The injunction being placed and the work being halted would have been absolutely the right thing to do, so it is devastating for wildlife, breeding birds, bats and butterflies that it hasn’t, and is completely short sighted.

“It completely goes against best practice and conservation principles and professional standards.

“There’s a human element too. People are being urged to stay at home due to coronavirus and the safety of the construction workers, the police and protestors, are being put at severe risk.

“Once we get to the other side of the coronavirus crisis, it is massively important our Government address the issues of biodiversity loss and climate change as an immediate priority. This crisis really calls into question whether we should be proceeding with this costly and unnecessary project at all.”