Wildlife campaigners in Yorkshire have expressed concerns about the impact of the proposed route for the second phase of the HS2 high-speed rail link.
The Wildlife Trust says more than two hundred wildlife sites lie within a one kilometre corridor centered on the proposed route and could suffer as a result. Of these, at least sixty-five are at direct risk of impact from the line itself.
There are three Yorkshire Wildlife Trust reserves which will be affected: Woodhouse / Woodhouse Washlands, where the route goes along the eastern boundary and so direct impacts are expected, Water Haigh Woodland Park where the line goes straight through the middle, and Rothwell Country Park.
Dr Rob Stoneman, chief executive of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, said, “Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is committed to sustainable development and is extremely concerned that, if poorly planned and designed, HS2 could create a very expensive swathe of concrete and steel through the beautiful countryside of Yorkshire, fragmenting our diminishing wildlife yet further.
“The proposed route slices through the middle of one of our nature reserves that we manage in partnership with Leeds City Council and we are very concerned about damage to our reserves and other wildlife sites along the route, especially in South Sheffield at Woodhouse Washlands Nature Reserve, through the Southern Washlands near Wakefield and in the Lower Aire Valley, Leeds.
“We are therefore very keen to work with HS2 to ensure the new railway enhances rather than destroys wildlife. It is essential that HS2 mitigates against any unavoidable damage and also designs in wildlife.
“We would like to see a very small part of the massive HS2 budget put aside to improve wildlife habitats around the line so that HS2 allows both people and wildlife to move through Yorkshire.”
The Wildlife Trusts will campaign to ensure excessive damage on the natural environment is avoided.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin says the route is not set in stone, and that the views of everyone will be taken on board. “I should stress that although I have published an initial preferred route, this will be a genuine consultation process,” he said.
“Changes are always possible as the outcome of the consultation on phase one of HS2 has shown.”