The strength of public feeling against the annihilation of ancient woodland for HS2 must serve as a wake-up call to those designing the scheme, claims the Woodland Trust.

More than 26,000 people have added their voice to the Trust’s in opposing the destruction of at least 19 ancient woodlands for Phase 2b of the environmentally caustic project.

It’s the largest number of responses the charity has seen for one of its campaigns to protect woods under threat.

Abi Bunker, Director of Conservation and External Affairs said: “The tremendous reaction to our campaign shows the overwhelming opposition to the destruction of this rare and irreplaceable habitat.

“We will submit all the responses on our supporters’ behalf before HS2 Ltd’s public consultation closes this month with the stark message that it’s about time they sat up and listened to the groundswell of public opinion.

“They cannot continue to ride roughshod over our precious habitats like this. We stand to lose not just the woodland but the hundreds of species that call it home, and once it’s gone it’s gone forever as no amount of replanting can compensate for the loss.”

The Trust’s campaign launched in October in response to HS2 Ltd publishing its draft environmental statement for Phase 2b, revealing the shocking news that at least 19 ancient woods totalling 16.7 hectares (equivalent to 25 football pitches) are facing loss – double the Trust’s original estimation.

Phase 2b will run from Birmingham to Leeds (123 miles) and Crewe to Manchester (51 miles) and as well as resulting in some destruction to those 19 sites, the route will cause damage and deterioration to 11 more through noise, vibration, changes to lighting and dust.

The single biggest loss of ancient woodland is at Nor Wood, near Killamarsh, on the Derbyshire/South Yorkshire border (4.1ha).

The Trust is continuing to press for the proposed route to be realigned or for tunnelling to be considered in order to save the irreplaceable habitats currently under threat.

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