‘Fundamental flaws’ in HS2 nature assessments, says Wildlife Trusts

The Wildlife Trusts have released a report detailing ‘fundamental flaws’ in nature assessments by HS2.

The revelation was in the environmental journal in February.

The report says HS2 undervalued natural habitats. Plus, it says the company underestimated the impact the railway’s construction will have on biodiversity.

What’s more, HS2 also missed watercourses, ponds and trees out of data.

Meanwhile, trees and species-rich hedgerows, providing berries, shelter and nesting places for wildlife, received lower nature values than they should.

Dr Rachel Giles, evidence and planning manager at Cheshire Wildlife Trust and author of the report, said: ‘We’ve been shocked by the errors and discrepancies that our audit revealed. HS2 Ltd must stop using a deeply flawed method to calculate the value of nature affected by the construction of the route. It is astonishing that a flagship infrastructure project is able to use a metric which is untested and not fit for purpose.

HS2 Ltd responded to the report on Twitter, calling HS2 the ‘largest single environmental project in the UK’.

The company continued: ‘Today’s claims by @WildlifeTrusts are incorrect and based on unreliable data from limited desk research. #HS2’s data is independently verified, accurate and reliable from extensive, detailed surveys by expert ecologists out in the field, on huge areas of land.’

The Wildlife Trusts say HS2 should:

  • Re-map existing habitats
  • Apply more accurate nature values to habitats
  • Use up-to-date, proven methodology
  • Pause construction until a full assessment of the findings takes place.

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