The High Speed 2 (more commonly known as the HS2) is a railway under construction to connect London, Birmingham, the East Midlands, Leeds and Manchester. As you can imagine the 330-mile train line will cause major damage to England’s woodlands and natural habitats.
The track is planned to tear through at least 19 ancient woodlands in South Yorkshire alone, with the biggest patch being 4.1 hectares of irreplaceable land. We also stand to lose the animal life in the area as well as the land. However, an HS2 spokesperson stated that: “The HS2 aims to be one of the most environmentally-responsible infrastructure projects ever delivered in the UK.” That’s despite cutting through six wildlife parks local to me, as well as a nature reserve in the South Yorkshire area. This massacre of the habitats in England will inevitably result in a decline of wild bird numbers, including songbirds like sparrows, skylarks and wrens. This could lead to massive consequences, like disturbing the food pyramid of England’s wildlife, leaving predators with no prey to hunt.
The HS2 is also affecting many local shoots around Yorkshire, including my own. The train line plans to mow down two of our main drives on Birklodge Shoot, completely tearing it in half. When asked his opinion, our gamekeeper Anthony said: “I honestly believe it will be end of the shoot, due to the disruption and mayhem the train line will cause to our drives and by breaking through our pens and major drives on the shoot.” However, it won’t just affect the shoot syndicate but also the land owners who state that: “it cuts our land in half. We also lose more land used for cattle rearing. Also, deer now breed on our land and this will push them away, leaving them a target for poachers. But because the government compulsory purchases the land we can’t do anything about it.”
With the major loss of these nature reserves and ancient woodlands, is the HS2 a risk worth taking?