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Deforestation of ancient woodland for HS2 halted

The Transport Secretary announced on Tuesday that the removal of sections of ancient woodland to make way for HS2 is to be halted while there is an independent review into the project, ensuring that proceedings are both necessary and cost effective.

The ancient woodlands clearance programme has been, just as the project itself, called into review by the independent examination authority, spearheaded by Douglas Oakervee, following the raising of various concerns by local residents and environmental campaigners who claim that the deforestation of these ancient woodlands would be an irreversible process.

In light of this newly announced review it will now be the case that deforestation of the woodlands, for the express purpose of HS2, will not be permitted unless proven to be unavoidably necessary by Mr Oakervee in preventing further costs or scheduling conflicts.

HS2 Ltd, despite the independent review, is still permitted to carry out preparatory work for HS2 in the meantime which, should they be delayed, impede upon the costs and scheduling of the project but, still, are not allowed to undergo any major works at a significant cost.

The Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps stated: “There is no sense in hiding the challenges HS2 faces or masking the difficult decisions that need to be taken. So, as Douglas Oakervee’s review continues, we must take a sensible approach and recognise that some works simply cannot be undone later.

“Having listened to the concerns of affected residents and Parliamentary colleagues, I have ordered HS2 Ltd to consider what works affecting ancient woodland clearances can be delayed for the duration of the review. This ensures we avoid irreversible decisions without major impacts on cost and schedule. HS2 may be a complex project overall, but I think this request is just common sense.”

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