Staffordshire Wildlife Trust was extremely saddened following the news, which allows HS2 Ltd to proceed with works on the ground and compulsorily purchase land.
At this stage, activities will include further surveys and ground investigations, with more preparation works to follow. The main construction is due to start in 2023.
The Phase 2a route will run about 34 miles from Fradley near Lichfield, across Staffordshire to Crewe. The design as it stands will damage 11 ancient woodlands, two Local Nature Reserves, over 35 Local Wildlife Sites and destroy 17 veteran trees.
Kate Dewey, Senior Planning Officer for the Trust, said: “HS2 Ltd have not yet finished surveying all the land to be impacted, so we are certain there are further key habitats such as ancient hedgerows and grasslands that have yet to be discovered.
“There is very little room to avoid these now- the detailed design stage is the only chance left.”
Last year, the Trust gave evidence to the HS2 Phase 2a Lords Select Committee and raised a number of concerns. Kate gave evidence on the impact the Phase 2a route would have on Local Wildlife Sites and irreplaceable habitats - many of which have not yet been properly investigated.
A consultation on Phase 2a is underway with a deadline of 26th February, asking for views on traffic, environmental impacts, transport links and stations. The Trust will be responding.
Kate added: “We will continue to input to the plans wherever we can and push HS2 Ltd. to avoid and properly mitigate for the habitats and species it will be affecting.
“Anyone who lives or walks near the route can help by recording wildlife in the area and reporting sightings to Staffordshire Ecological Record.”