Trust welcomes news HS2 work will not take place in spring

Staffordshire Wildlife Trust has welcomed news that work to clear an ancient woodland near Lichfield will not begin this spring – a vital time for wildlife – following a review by HS2 Ltd.

The Trust expressed its dismay earlier this month that HS2 Ltd had moved soil translocation work to this spring at Fulfen Wood at such a vital time for wildlife, including for nesting birds and disturbance to a whole host of other species.

The work, which would also have involved felling dozens of trees, was due to take place at five woods; four in Warwickshire and at Fulfen Wood.

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

That injunction application had been rejected – but it has now been decided work will not commence at Fulfen Wood until autumn time. It will still continue at the four woods in Warwickshire, however.

David Cadman, Senior Conservation Manager for Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, said: “We are glad common sense has prevailed and the work won’t be taking place at Fulfen Wood this spring – even though we are disappointed about the situation in Warwickshire.

“Clearly, we would prefer if this work wasn’t taking place at all, but to move it to springtime would have been extremely detrimental to wildlife.

“HS2 originally committed to following best practice for woodland clearance and soil translocation, which should take place in autumn/winter when plants are dormant and birds are not nesting.

“The work would have completely gone against best practice and conservation principles and professional standards.

“With us being in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, we had also expressed deep concern about construction workers, police and protestors being put at risk if the work had gone ahead.

“We are continuing to call on the Government to address the issues of biodiversity loss and climate change as an immediate priority once we are on the other side of the coronavirus crisis. Now more than ever we need nature. And we are questioning whether we need this costly and unnecessary project at all."