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Cheshire Wildlife Trust secures a new deal for wildlife from HS2 Ltd
Cheshire Wildlife Trust has been fighting hard for HS2 Ltd to give a clear commitment to wildlife during the development and operation of the new train line for a number of years. This week the Trust was delighted to receive assurances from the company that the Trust’s concerns had been taken on-board for Phase 2a of the work.
Recently, HS2 Ltd announced the creation of a significant fund for landscape and ecology work in the Cheshire area affected by Phase 2a . The Trust has now heard that through their continued pressure on the firm that this fund has been increased by an extra £150,000.
The fund will be used to deliver conservation enhancements in Cheshire East, which are over and above those that were proposed in HS2 Ltd’s Environmental Statement for the project.
As a result of Cheshire Wildlife Trust pushing their concerns to government level including submitting a detailed petition voicing their objections, the fund amount was increased and assurances were provided by HS2 Ltd that landowners surrounding the work would be encouraged to make improvements for wildlife. They have also shown a clear commitment to working with Cheshire Wildlife Trust to identify locations where improvements could be made for the benefit of wildlife.
The Trust had been particularly concerned around the impact on wildlife of the loss of the majority of a 105-hectare wildlife site – Randilow and Bunker Hill Local Wildlife Site – that forms an integral part of the Meres and Mosses Nature Improvement Area.
‘’It has taken us two years of hard work to get to this point,’’ said Rachel Giles, Evidence and Planning Manager at Cheshire Wildlife Trust. “I’m pleased HS2 Ltd. has finally listened to our concerns. Although we were never going to be able to prevent the railway going ahead we have now had assurances that additional steps will be taken to lessen the impacts on wildlife.”
The Trust will be able to access this funding, which will provide habitat for the species most impacted by the scheme such as farmland birds.
Although this is a milestone for Cheshire Wildlife Trust, the benefits secured are only in relation to the first five miles of track from the Staffordshire border up to Crewe. ‘’We will continue to keep the pressure on HS2 Ltd. to make sure wildlife is considered appropriately in the next phase of the scheme. The 30 mile stretch from Crewe to Manchester and Warrington (Phase 2b) will prove an even bigger challenge, not least because the impacts to wildlife are likely to be so much greater,’’ explained Rachel.
In anticipation of this the Trust has had its surveyors on the ground this summer assessing wildlife-rich areas that are likely to be impacted by the next phase.
‘’We will not let HS2 Ltd underestimate the damage the scheme will do to wildlife and we will take every opportunity to push for better outcomes for nature. HS2 now know we are prepared to take our concerns to the government if necessary,’’ said Rachel.
People can keep up-to date on Cheshire Wildlife Trust’s work, including its actions to support wildlife during the development of the High Speed Rail line at its website www.cheshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/HS2.