HS2 in Birmingham

Park Hall Nature Reserve - HS2 will run across this area

High Speed 2 (HS2) is a planned high speed railway between London, the Midlands, the North West of England, Yorkshire, possibly North East England and Scotland. The route has been controversial from when it was first announced in 2009 due to the impact it will have on the places it passes through. Locally, HS2 will have a particularly significant impact on Park Hall nature reserve.

Our mission as an organisation is to protect local wildlife and when large schemes like this are proposed, it is vital that we make every effort to ensure environmental issues have been taken into account and the overall effect on biodiversity is a positive one, rather than them damaging our landscapes further.

To seek to ensure this is the case, the Wildlife Trust has responded to both the Draft and Final Environmental Statements submitted by the proponents of HS2 in the last 12 months. Now that the Parliamentary Bill has passed its Second Reading, this has given us the opportunity to petition parliament, objecting to many elements of the bill and requesting changes and improvements to result in the best practicable environmental solution for the provision of HS2.

The construction and provision of HS2 will destroy Park Hall Nature Reserve, the best natural site along the route in Birmingham. Significant areas of Habitats of Principal Importance, including Ancient Woodland, will be partly destroyed by the route itself and partly destroyed by the proposal to re-route power cables. The Scheme will take at least 80%, and at the worst 95%, of the site and have profound effects on the rest of the reserve and the public’s enjoyment of it.

Significant losses of ancient woodland will result, and, in the floodplain, grazing marsh, meadow, open water including 17 small ponds and swamp and ditch habitat will be lost. The loss of this large habitat mosaic also results in a significant adverse impact for a range of protected and other important species, including otter, bat species, water vole, great crested newt, grass snake, kingfisher, sand martin, and a range of aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates.

HS2 proposes to mitigate ancient woodland loss through replacement tree planting and translocating Ancient Woodland soils. It is widely accepted by ecologists that it is not possible to mitigate Ancient Woodland loss. HS2 results in the needless destruction of ancient woodland and impacts on protected species such as bats.

HS2 also propose to re-align the course of the River Tame - this will have a fundamental impact on the hydrology and ecology of the site.

Park Hall Nature Reserve is a critical key gateway of the Birmingham and Black Country Nature Improvement Area, linking the rural Tame Valley to Birmingham along the Key Wildlife Corridors of the River Tame and the nearby Birmingham & Fazeley Canal. The exceptional quality of habitats at Park Hall has greater contextual value because of its proximity and connections to the urban landscape. These benefits must not be lost to the landscape and communities of Birmingham.

“If they are to destroy precious habitats, we need to know what is being destroyed, why and how they are going to mitigate this loss. So far we are a long way from knowing how they can possibly avoid damaging biodiversity, as they are only focussed on the very narrow corridor of the proposed HS2 route and have not looked at the larger picture.” - Nick Hammond, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country.

As lead partner in the Nature Improvement Area, we are seriously concerned that the proposals will cause considerable net loss of habitats and accessible green space and will fail to take the opportunities to benefit the environment that a scheme of this scale should bring. In petitioning Parliament, we have requested that the proponents of the Bill:

  • acknowledge the scale and value of the habitats present and impacted upon at Park Hall
  • amend the route of the power cables diversion to avoid the needless damage to the ancient woodland
  • provide more detail about the re-alignment of the River Tame and the restoration of the floodplain so that judgement can be made as to whether appropriate mitigation and compensation can be achieved
  • mitigate and compensate wider environmental impacts within the Birmingham and Black Country Nature Improvement Area by the providing new or improved habitat of equivalent value along the corridor of HS2 within the Nature Improvement Area to provide a green corridor with community access to as much of this land as is practical
  • carry out further ecological survey and assessment work to inform mitigation and compensation so that design proposals for these mitigations can be confirmed so that judgement can be made as to whether appropriate mitigation and compensation can be achieved
  • deliver a strong and coherent ecological network through “net gain” landscape-scale conservation within the wildlife corridors and open space of Birmingham to be secured in perpetuity with appropriate fundingWe will continue to campaign on our members’ behalf for the best outcomes for local people and wildlife from all major schemes like this. Compensation through the creation or improvement of habitats outside Birmingham and beyond the Nature Improvement Area may be a convenient option but would fundamentally undermine the objectives of the Nature Improvement Area and would compromise our capacity to achieve our aims. 

You can download the Trust's detailed response the the HS2 draft environmental statement here.

A greener vision for HS2

The vision for nature which The Wildlife Trusts nationally propose along the route in their document “A greener vision for HS2” would create a ribbon of natural areas along the HS2 corridor, which would go some way towards replacing the natural heritage obliterated by the line and could improve people’s access to nature via an ambitious network of cycleways, footpaths and green bridges. You can find out more about that vision at www.wildlifetrusts.org/hs2

 

Downloads

FilenameFile size
The Wildlife Trust's position on HS277.86 KB
The Right Lines Charter186.75 KB
Response to final HS2 Environmental Statement.pdf1.11 MB