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Bosses at HS2 are turning a blind eye to natural features lost during construction, warn charities. Building the high-speed line is meant to have no net loss of biodiversity where habitats can be replaced.
But The Wildlife Trusts claims watercourses, ponds and trees have been “missed out of the data” by HS2 Ltd.
And the body accused the government-owned company of using an accounting tool that was “untested, out of date and fundamentally flawed”.
The tool is needed for accurate assessments of land on the route to calculate things like new trees and hedgerows that need to be planted.
The Wildlife Trusts’ report, released today, claims there will be “at least 17 per cent less nature present” after construction of Phase One between London and Birmingham. HS2 Ltd’s figures say “there will only be a 2.6 per cent nature loss”.
Phase 2a, from the West Midlands to Crewe, is claimed to result in a 42 per cent nature loss, compared with HS2 Ltd’s estimate of just 17 per cent.
Craig Bennett, The Wildlife Trusts’ boss, said: “The scale of error is nothing short of a scandal, and the company must provide far more compensation for nature than offered.”
But an HS2 Ltd spokesman said: “We don’t recognise the figures from the report nor do we believe them to be reliable. The Wildlife Trusts have undertaken limited desk research and have not accessed huge areas of land for undertaking ecological survey, in contrast to the ecologists who have compiled HS2’s data.
“We’re committed to reviewing our assessment methodology on an ongoing basis and intend to align more closely with the Government’s biodiversity metric once it is published.”
The line has seen delays with costs predicted to balloon to £100billion.
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