Park Hall Nature Reserve - HS2 will run across this area
On January 10 2012 the Government announce the go-ahead for the development of HS2 - a high speed rail link between London and Birmingham. The route has a particularly significant impact on Park Hall nature reserve: a large cutting through ancient woodland; over 600 metres of viaduct cutting the reserve in two; the re-alignment some 1,600m of the River Tame and the loss of access to the reserve. The route also has major implications for the proposed Eastside Park, potentially depriving the people of Birmingham of a much-needed landmark greenspace near the City Centre.
The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country is concerned that decisions on the proposals have not taken all the environmental issues into account and given them proper weight against economic and other matters when assessing the overall viability of the scheme and planning details of the route. Steps must be taken to mitigate and compensate for environmental damage and losses at Park Hall and all along the route.
Wildlife Trust Chief Executive, Neil Wyatt said: "Now that there is certainty about the future of HS2, there is huge uncertainty about the future of the magnificent Park Hall nature reserve. High Speed Rail need to accept the impacts the proposal will have on wildlife here, and elsewhere along the route and start start thinking about what they will do about them."
Having considered the latest proposals, together with the supporting documentation, the Wildlife Trust highlights the following concerns:
- High Speed Rail limited have not responded to our invitations to discuss the impacts on Park Hall in detail or to visit the site to see the situation first hand.
- Discussions on the environmental case for HS2 have not properly considered the effects of the route on biodiversity;
- A number of important sites for biodiversity within Birmingham are within or adjacent to the proposed route. These wildlife sites are primarily our own Park Hall nature reserve (a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation) and the rivers Tame and Cole where their course is aligned with the proposals;
- Elsewhere along the route a series of wildlife sites of national and local importance are affected by the proposals;
- A comparative assessment of base line ecological data has not been undertaken to inform the HS2 route selection;
- A comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the route was not available prior to the public consultation in 2011;
- The full impact of the route on biodiversity should not have been determined without a full Environmental Impact Assessment;
- The cumulative impact of habitat loss and fragmentation will need to be sufficiently established and addressed within the Environmental Impact Assessment;
- The wider environmental impacts of the proposals, particularly with respect to carbon emissions, the wider landscape and habitat fragmentation have not yet been properly assessed;
- No compelling environmental case for the proposals has yet been made;
- A greater commitment is needed from the government to ensure that sufficient funds are made available to mitigate or compensate the adverse effects of the route on biodiversity.
In response to these concerns, the Wildlife Trust has committed to raising the profile of biodiversity as a significant part of the environmental agenda for HS2. The Trust also aims to ensure that a comprehensive impact assessment is undertaken so that all discussions and consultations on the biodiversity impacts of the route can be based on robust and up-to-date ecological information. The Wildlife Trust is working to achieve these aims by:
- Mapping the revised HS2 route to establish the number of statutory and non-statutory wildlife sites which are vulnerable to the direct or indirect impacts of the route;
- Reviewing the technical details of the railway’s construction to evaluate which features are likely to have detrimental effects on wildlife species and habitats;
- Meeting with local MP’s to outline the main biodiversity concerns of the HS2 proposals;
- Objecting vocally if the environmental impacts of the proposals are ignored or misrepresented;
- Working with local partners to raise awareness of the impact of HS2 on biodiversity within Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull;
- Considering the impact of the route both nationally and locally with other affected Wildlife Trusts along the route;
- Liaising with other Wildlife Trusts through a joint HS2 conservation officer, who will coordinate a joint Wildlife Trust response to the HS2 consultation in 2011.
Should the proposals for HS2 be taken forwards, the Wildlife Trust is concerned to ensure that mitigation and compensation measures that are implement are appropriate, effective and bring real gains to both the wildlife and communities affected by the project. To achieve this the Wildlife Trust will:
- Work with local partners, in particular Birmingham City Council, the Environment Agency and Natural England, to identify the best and most effective opportunities for mitigation and compensation along the route;
- In particular, the Wildlife Trust will seek commitment to a significant package of mitigation and compensation for any damage to Park Hall Nature Reserve with the aim of achieving net gains for biodiversity and public access;
- Petition Parliament for these measures to be incorporated into any hybrid bill for the proposals;
- Campaign for there to be an independent ‘Ecological Clerk of Works’ for the proposals, with a high level-access to the Project Management;
- Seek an independent and flexible fund to deliver sustainable environmental compensation beyond immediate mitigation along rail corridor;
- Monitor the impacts of construction.
"High Speed Rail need to accept the impacts the proposal will have on wildlife ... along the route and start start thinking about what they will do about them."
|The Wildlife Trust's position on HS2||77.86 KB|
|The Wildlife Trust's response to government on the consultation||120.42 KB|
|The Right Lines Charter||186.75 KB|
|Response to HS2 Draft Environmental Statement||440.76 KB|