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HS2 – Action to Save Ancient Woodlands

October 2, 2019

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If HS2 goes ahead, it will require the largest deforestation project this country has seen since the First World War. In August, the Government announced an “independent review” on the HS2 project and we are told that anything is possible: HS2 might not go ahead and even if it does it might be substantially altered. It would be irrational to allow any harm to our precious ancient woodlands for a project that might not even happen. Nonetheless, on 3 September 2019 a defiant Transport Secretary told Parliament that he had decided that HS2 Ltd could press ahead with works causing irreparable, irreversible harm to these woodlands.

On 16 September 2019, the day my legal team were due to send him a legal letter, he announced that he said that the ancient woodlands could be spared, but left it to HS2 Ltd to decide which ones would be given a reprieve. Now, following a threat of legal action and protests on the ground, the Transport Secretary has finally decided to stop this madness. For now, at least, the ancient woodlands are saved.

THE LETTERS

Letter sent to Natural England – protected species
11th October 2019

This letter asks Natural England to use its power to revoke or suspend Bat licences pending the outcome of the Oakervee Review in order to stop imminent planned interference with bat roosts that would disturb, and potentially cause lasting harm, to this important protected species. The letter argues that HS2-related works should not be carried out under licence when the very future of HS2 is entirely uncertain at this time.

[ View letter – pdf ]

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Letter sent to Tony Juniper, CBE
Chair of Natural England
1st October 2019

Relating to the licences Natural England had granted to HS2 and pointing out that  sub-contractors for HS2 Ltd had arrived at Cubbington Wood on 30 September 2019 to start clearance of the ancient woodland.

[ View letter – pdf ]

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Letter-1-10-19

Letter sent to Claire Wills,
Government Legal Department
1st October 2019

After the developments at South Cubbington this letter asks the Secretary of State to immediately disclose the schedule of works that might affect ancient woodlands, and a timetable for the case-by-case decision-making process he announced on 16 September 2019.

[ View letter – pdf ]

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Letter-16-9-19

Letter sent to the Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP,
Secretary of State for Transport
16th September 2019

This letter to the Secretary of State asked for clarification of his decision to ask HS2 Ltd to decide which ancient woodlands would be spared destruction and which would not, seemingly on the basis of costs.

[ View letter – pdf ]

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Letter 16-9-19

Letter sent to the Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP,
Secretary of State for Transport
16th September 2019

This was a pre-action letter under the Judicial Review Pre-Action Protocol sent following the Government’s announcement, on Tuesday 3 September 2019, that it had authorised HS2 Ltd to continue with unnecessary enabling works on the HS2 project during the period pending the outcome of the independent cross-party review into whether and how HS2 should proceed.

[ View letter – pdf ]

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Letter-16-9-19

Thank you Leigh Day, solicitors

Our grateful thanks to the team at Leigh Day – top solicitors in London and Manchester. We very much appreciate their efforts, endeavours and support.

www.leighday.co.uk