Wednesday 28 March 2012
The Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) has written to the European Commission claiming that the UK Government chose the High Speed Rail (HS2) route between London and Birmingham without taking proper account of its environmental impacts.
The Government did not carry out a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) which would have required a thorough investigation of the environmental impacts of the HS2 route and viable alternatives. As a result, the process used by HS2 Ltd ignored vital information about the potential impacts of HS2 on nature reserves, protected species and important wildlife sites, The Trust claims.
“The Government believed it wasn’t necessary to carry out an SEA. As a result they didn’t know about the nature reserves the route cuts through, or the precious woodland habitats of Bernwood Forest in Buckinghamshire, where the very rare Bechstein’s bats were discovered by a local bat group," said Philippa Lyons, Chief Executive of BBOWT.
Steve Rodrick, Chief Officer of the Chilterns Conservation Board, comments: "It is essential for the sake of conserving our environment that the Government carries out an SEA. The Board is very concerned that this EU legislation has not been applied and looks forward to a rigorous enquiry into the Wildlife Trust's complaint."
BBOWT is collaborating with four other Wildlife Trusts affected by Phase 1 of HS2, other conservation groups and the HS2 Action Alliance, which recently sent a letter to the Government calling for a Judicial Review of its decision to go ahead without doing an SEA.
BBOWT highlighted the impacts of the HS2 proposed route on wildlife in its response to the Government’s consultation during 2011. Thousands of responses raised similar concerns, with the vast majority calling on the Government to think again about HS2, but these were ignored by the Secretary of State when the route was announced in January this year.