10 October 2017
The demolition of woodland by HS2 Ltd. has commenced in Harefield, Hillingdon. It is the first enabling works in the plan to construct a viaduct for the high speed train over a nature reserve including lakes and wetland habitat at the Mid Colne Valley. The area is Site of Special Scientific Interest. It’s importance lies in its extensive diversity of wildlife in lakes of former gravel pits.
A bat survey commissioned by HS2 was published in 2013 showing evidence of 9 species of bat in the Mid Colne Valley site. In Britain all bat species and their roosts are legally protected, by both domestic and international legislation.
Natural England, the Government body responsible for issuing protected species licences, cannot confirm whether HS2 Ltd. has obtained the necessary licences. A freedom of information request has been submitted to Natural England.
Local residents and activists have reason to believe that the developers are demolishing trees which are known to host protected bat roosts.
Local Green Party campaigner Emma Brading said: “We have addressed our concerns with both Hillingdon Council and Natural England. We have also reported a wildlife crime to Hillingdon Police. No one has been able to confirm whether the developers who are demolishing trees have a license to do so when there is evidence of protected species on site”.
Stop HS2 campaigner Elizabeth Williams said: "Even with a hybrid bill in place it us utterly unacceptable that such devastating destruction of the natural environment is progressing without the necessary studies and licences in place under EU and UK environmental laws. I saw for myself how the police were unwilling to act to prevent further wildllife crime or assault on protestors by unidentified HS2 security guards at the protest last Tuesday. HS2 are not above the law and needs to start respecting that, the environment and the communties they are devastating."
With reference to the multiple bat species found on the site, the HS2 Environmental Statement concludes: “The loss of these habitats may result in the temporary disturbance of the bat assemblage, however, it is likely that all component species will disperse to, and forage within the abundant surrounding woodland and open water and are likely to use the nearby canal or lake edge as an alternative north-south commuting route.
There has been widespread criticism of this approach from respected wildlife organisations.
With reference to HS2’s Environmental Statement, the Bat Conservation Trust said: “Impact of habitat loss and limitations of compensation are not fully acknowledged, especially when referring to irreplaceable habitat and slow maturation rates”.
The location of the demolition works is Harvil Road (South of Dews Lane), Harefield, UB9 6JW
Local residents and activists plan to carry out non violent direct action for the duration of the demolition work.
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