High speed rail (HS2)

High speed rail (HS2)

One of the biggest infrastructure programmes in our lifetime & the impact on wildlife will be felt for years

Staffordshire Wildlife Trust believes that the proposed route for HS2 will do irreparable damage to a number of Staffordshire's precious wild places and habitats that support threatened wildlife.

Since the HS2 route was announced, Staffordshire Wildlife Trust have highlighted the threats to important wildlife and campaigned against the HS2 plans in order to protect rare habitats and species along the planned route, as well as work to influence decision-making around the project - including presenting evidence to the House of Commons HS2 Select Committee on two occasions; and to the House of Lords to comment on the Phase 2 a Bill last September.

We continue to campaign against HS2 and remain extremely concerned about its route and impact on the natural environment.

Along with all the Wildlife Trusts, we continue to call on the Government to rethink the current plans for HS2 in light of the risks to nature and will do our best to stop some of the worst impacts of the scheme where we can.

Nature at risk from HS2 in Staffordshire 

  • Staffordshire is affected by Phase 1 and 2 HS2 routes. 
  • Irreplaceable habitats are being destroyed in Staffordshire by HS2 such as veteran trees, ancient hedges and water-meadows. Some of these losses will even be for temporary works such as construction access. 
  • Wildlife such as barn owl, lapwing and snipe are at risk. 
  • 53 local wildlife sites will be affected, including very rare inland saltmarsh
  • 19 hectares of ancient woodland is also at risk
  • 10,000 acres of land destroyed

Examples of habitats at risk include; 

  • Whitmore Wood, a Local Wildlife Site (county importance) and ancient woodland near Newcastle-under-Lyme. HS2 would cut through the woodland. If this destruction goes ahead on the site, it would currently be the single biggest loss of woodland on the entire HS2 scheme with the loss of 5.5ha (around half of the wood). The wood could be saved via tunnelling, but this option has so far been dismissed on the grounds of cost. 
  • Bishton (north of) is a Local Wildlife Site covering approx 3km of species-rich hedges lining Bishton Lane, A temporary access route is proposed to remove at least half of the hedgerows to widen the lane. 
  • Finner's Hill hedgerows and Moor Lane, Colton on Newlands Lane and Moor Lane in Stockwell Heath are potentially ancient species-rich hedges which will be lost by temporary road widening and HS2 cutting directly through them.

To learn more about how HS2 effects Staffordshire and what is being damaged and lost locally, check out these maps 

In Staffordshire we are set to lose 19 hectares of ancient woodland, as well as other irreplaceable habitats such as veteran trees, ancient hedges and water-meadows untouched for centuries. Even worse, some of these losses will be for temporary works such as construction access.

We know that at least 53 Local Wildlife Sites in Staffordshire will be affected, including very rare inland saltmarsh, and many more important habitats that could deserve local designation. Declining birds such as barn owl, lapwing and snipe will lose their homes".

Kate Dewey, Senior Planning Officer at Staffordshire Wildlife Trust

Support local wildlife

HS2 is one of the biggest infrastructure programmes in our lifetime and the impact on wildlife will be felt for years. We are the leading environmental charity in the county fighting against the route of HS2. Wherever you live, if you care about wildlife, please add your voice to ours by becoming a member.

Become a member

What Staffordshire Wildlife Trust is doing:

  • we have carried out surveys along the proposed routes to collect data, and where appropriate designate important wildlife areas that will be affected.
  • We have compiled detailed responses to all consultations to date.
  • Along with other ecologists from local councils, we meet with HS2 Ltd to bring our experience, knowledge and commitment to get the very best deal for wildlife and the local people who enjoy experiencing it. We will work to ensure damage to the environment is avoided, mitigated, or as a last resort, compensated for.

What you can do to help

If you would like to support our work campaigning against HS2 and protecting Staffordshire's precious wildlife and wild places, please become a member of Staffordshire Wildlife Trust. Join online or call 01889 880100.

We are also appealing for local advocates to represent the Trust at community meetings where HS2 is being discussed - call 01889 880100 for details. Or, you can donate to our HS2 appeal http://www.staffs-wildlife.org.uk/donate

HS2 wildlife
Otters at risk from HS2

2020 report reveals sheer scale of potential damage to nature from HS2

Read the report

Our analysis of the wildlife and wildlife habitats affected by HS2

Phase 1 and 2 of HS2 is going to affect an estimated 4225 hectares (10440 acres) along with the wildlife that calls the land, hedges and trees home where the route will run through.

HS2 Phase 1

The proposed route for HS2 navigates a path through one of the greatest concentrations of Ancient Woodland sites in Lichfield District. The most notable affected sites being Vicar’s Coppice, Ravenshaw Wood, Black Slough and Slaish, Tomhay Wood and Big Lyntus, covering a combined area of approximately 52 hectares (129 acres).

The woodlands, running parallel to the Trent and Mersey Canal, which is an important ecological corridor for a range of species including bats, contain a myriad of plants from swathes of bluebells, yellow archangel and ramsons to drifts of lesser pond-sedge and yellow flag, associated with wet woodlands.

The proposed route will bisect the Bourne Brook near the village of Hints. This stretch of watercourse and adjacent land incorporates approximately 38 hectares (94 acres) of designated wetland habitats.

Snake’s Hill and River Oxbow consists of an area of botanically-rich wet grassland, of a type which is increasingly scarce both locally and nationally, while to the south and north are expanses of periodically wet grassland which attract wading birds such as lapwing and snipe.

Whittington Heath – a 60 hectare (149 acre) lowland heath site situated in an ecologically significant area between Cannock Chase and Sutton Park.

Read our HS2 Phase 1 petition to the House of Lords

The HS2 Phase 1 Hybrid Bill has been through the House of Commons, and is now being considered by the House of Lords, which carries out a similar process. On Monday 18th April, we deposited a petition against the Bill to the House of Lords, to raising a number of outstanding wildlife issues that have still not been addressed.

Whittington golf course- HS2

Find out more

Read the planning application

HS2 Phase 1


The proposed second phase of the HS2 route will cut through Whitmore Wood, a Site of Biological Importance ( SBI) to the north of Whitmore village near Newcastle-under-Lyme.

This 16 hectare ancient woodland has been owned and managed by the same family for several generations. An array of woodland wildflowers grow there, such as bluebell, yellow archangel and wood sorrel.


The current route goes through Lount Farm, an SBI near Colton. The grasslands here are botanically diverse, and one is an historic water meadow.

Other habitats

The route makes 33 river and stream crossings, and cuts through 18 ponds. Approximately 270 ponds lie within 500m of the track. Several hundred hedgerows would be severed by the line.


A huge number of species will be affected by the route - here are just a few:

  • The route goes close to woodlands near Newcastle, where Dormouse have been recorded. There may be further colonies in the area as yet unknown and potential impacts e.g. habitat severance.
  • There are three known colonies of great crested newts within the route corridor and several others nearby, so very likely to be more affected than are known about at present.
  • Otters are present on most rivers in Staffordshire now having recovered from their past decline, but as they range for long distances, any barriers across rivers and streams could be a problem.
  • The route goes through several barn owl 'hot spots'. Barn owl is a Staffordshire Biodiversity Action Plan species and the Barn Owl Action Group has been very active in boosting barn owl numbers over the last few years. Not only would habitat be lost and severed, but high speed trains would pose a further threat to low-flying hunting owls.
  • The wet meadows on the route support unusual plants such as great burnet, declining birds such as snipe and grasshopper warbler and nationally rare insects.
  • On farmland in general ground nesting birds such as skylark and lapwing would lose habitat, both directly and through reduced field sizes, and mammals such as hares, polecat and deer will have habitat severed, although some tunnels/ bridges would be included.
  • Declining farmland birds such as tree sparrow, grey partridge and skylark are at risk from HS2, Bats including the Leislers bat which is rarely found in Staffordshire will also be impacted by the route as will a range of nationally scarce insects. .
Website images

Credit: Jon Hawkins - Surrey Hills Photography

                                                                                HS2 news


Realignment of the route at junction 10 of the M42, North Warwickshire

HS2 Phase One Environmental Statement Consultation

HS2 Route Map

SWT HS2 Phase 1 Petition

HS2 Phase 1 Supplementary Environmental statement and additional provision 2 ES Consultation - SWT Response

HS2 Phase 2a EIA Scope and Methodology Report

HS2 Phase 2a 2016 Consultations – Working Draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Report

HS2 Phase 2a 2016 Consultations –Design Refinement Consultation

HS2 Phase 2A ES Consultation Response - September 2017

HS2 Phase 2A ES Consultation Response Main Points

HS2 Phase 2A Petition final SWT Feb 2018

HS2 Ltd Phase Two Consultation on the proposed high speed rail route from the West Midlands to Manchester, Leeds and beyond.