Government action ‘beyond belief’ over HS2, says Trust

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THE European Commission was this week urged to get involved in the battle against HS2, following a furious complaint by wildlife experts.

Bosses at the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust claim the government did not take proper account of the environmental impact of the controversial rail link.

The trust has written to the commission saying the Government did not carry out a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), which would have required a thorough investigation of the environmental impacts of the HS2 route and viable alternatives.

As a result, the group claims the process used by HS2 Ltd ignored vital information about the impacts of HS2 on nature reserves, protected species and important wildlife sites.

Philippa Lyons, chief executive of the trust, said: “The government believed it wasn’t necessary to carry out an SEA.

“As a result they didn’t know about the nature reserves the route cuts through, or the precious woodland habitats of Bernwood Forest in Buckinghamshire, where the very rare Bechstein’s bats were discovered by a local bat group.

“The Wildlife Trust has never before been driven to complain to the European Commission, but the refusal of this Government to take proper account of wildlife issues when deciding on HS2 is beyond belief.”

The group has joined with four other Wildlife Trusts, other conservation groups and the HS2 Action Alliance, which recently sent a letter to the Government calling for a Judicial Review of its decision to go ahead without doing an SEA.

Ms Lyons said: “The European Commission will not investigate our complaint while the UK courts are examining the same issues, but by submitting the complaint now, these important issues are on the Commissioner’s desk ready for immediate investigation.”