Claims HS2 line could cause wildlife damage

A South Yorkshire nature reserve could be damaged by the new HS2 high-speed rail line, it has been claimed.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust claims Woodhouse Washlands, near Sheffield, could be affected – along with Water Haigh Woodland Park, near Leeds.

HS2 Ltd said it was committed to minimising the environmental impact of the route between Leeds and Birmingham.

But the trust said it was unconvinced by the economic benefits of HS2.

Chief executive Rob Stoneham said: “It will not be a pretty site and it will completely dissect living landscapes full of wildlife.

“If you are building a new railway line of course you will go through countryside but we need to think about whether the destruction of all that countryside is worth it?”

He added the route would also have an impact on other wildlife habitats and several ancient woodlands as it crossed Yorkshire.

“The level of damage is very significant and we are not convinced by the economic and social benefits of HS2,” he added.

A final route for phase two is expected to be chosen by the end of 2014.

Chloe Lewis, environmental manager with HS2 Ltd, said: “The phase 2 route is not fixed and we would encourage the trust to come forward with their consultation response and give us as much information about their concerns as possible.

“HS2 has a policy of no net-loss to biodiversity so wherever we are impacting on habitats we will be recreating them elsewhere.”

Construction on the extension, which will travel through Sheffield, is expected to start in the middle of the next decade and would be completed by 2032-33.