At least 108 ancient woods are threatened with loss or damage from the two phases of HS2, with phase one already underway. A review of the HS2 project has been set up by the government and I have raised the issue of a complete suspension of all environmentally damaging work with the review team. Extinction rebellion have joined with local campaigners and with Chris Packham to organise protests against the work going ahead.
Work on the woodlands has now been suspended, which is great. These woodlands are crucial spots for biodiversity; the trees are hundreds of years old and have therefore become prized spots for rare invertebrates, bats and birds. However, there are many other habitats that need preserving while the review takes place.
Colne Valley is a good example of a site that needs treating with caution. It is not only beautiful, its aquifer is one of the main water supplies for London. Local campaigners have today sent HS2 a warning notice of intended legal action if the company goes ahead with plans to drive, a hole 30m deep, straight through the sub-soil of a highly polluted area and into the permeable rock of the aquifer below. This would potentially be a criminal act, as it would impact on the water supply of several million people.
A local pumping station had to be closed down a few years ago because of pollution from a local landfill site. Local greens have evidence that the closure of that pumping station has changed the flow of the underground water and it now goes directly under where HS2 are doing their work. I have asked a series of questions about this in the Lords and intend to send a lot more. HS2 need to start taking their environmental responsibilities seriously.