The railway viaduct at sunny day in English Midlands, via Istock

Concerns over HS2’s impact on local ecologies after ‘Double Jeopardy’ report published

Throughout the progression of the HS2 project there has been a core focus on reducing the environmental impact to wildlife habitats and regional ecology. According to a report by the Wildlife Trusts, companies building the controversial rail line have underestimated these impacts due to Inconsistent mapping and modelling.

According to the report and its findings, the construction works to accommodate phase one have caused “irreparable damage to precious wildlife sites already”, thus calling for construction to be paused and for the government to require HS2 Ltd to re-evaluate the impact construction has on nature.

The Wildlife Trusts are issuing a plea for the next phases of construction to improve upon the environmental mitigation and compensation commitments, taking on board the lessons learned from the previous phase.

The Cheshire Wildlife Trust investigated the initial phase using HS2 Ltd.’s “own data where available and additional information to show the type and quality of each habitat.” Throughout this process, the trust found that “HS2 Ltd.’s mapping and assessment of existing nature along the route and found a catalogue of errors.”

"In addition to the catalogue of errors when assessing the pre-existing nature, this audit found that HS2 Ltd.’s metric is untested, out of date and fundamentally flawed," they said.

Findings for Phase one show “a minimum net loss of 4,367 NNL units (17.36% loss of the pre-construction biodiversity value in NNL Units). This compares to a net loss of 555 NNL units (2.60% loss of the pre-construction biodiversity value in NNL units), as calculated by HS2 Ltd.”

These damages to the local ecology of communities affected by the ongoing infrastructure project are sever, with concerns for the future of the project and the impacts on biodiversity.

The report supports this as it says:

“This vast infrastructure project is taking a wrecking-ball to wildlife and communities are in despair at losing the wild places — the woods, meadows and wetlands that they love — they will never get these back.”

Dr Rachel Giles from Cheshire Wildlife Trust and author of the report, gave her opinions on the found discrepancies and methodologies to analyse the impacts, saying:

"HS2 Ltd must stop using a deeply flawed method to calculate the value of nature affected by the construction of the route," she said. "It is astonishing that a flagship infrastructure project is able to use a metric which is untested and not fit for purpose.

"HS2 Ltd should urgently recalculate the total loss to nature, by re-evaluating existing biodiversity along the entire route whilst there is still time to change the scheme's design and delivery."

If this report is accurate in its claims, it is vital that plans for the upcoming phase of works to be recalculated, learning from the mistakes of the previous works and adapt working methods to ensure local wildlife habitats and ecology are protected.

HS2 has since responded to the trusts’ report, seeing a spokesperson say that the organisation “didn’t recognise the figures” or “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," the spokesperson said.

To read the report in full, click here.

Want to know more about the opportunities to become a key supplier to the UK rail industry? Attend TransCityRail and access an exclusive marketplace of buyers from Network Rail, HS2, Train Operators, Major Contractors, and all other tiers of the supply chain. For more information and to secure your place click here.  

RTM Mag Cover, Feb/March 23


Investing in the future of Scotland's rainforest

This issue highlights the latest topics within the rail industry, from decarbonising the Midlands, improving rail safety, meeting the future priorities of Scotland's Railway & more!                                                      


View all videos
TransCityRail Banner


South \ 28 09 23
North \ 09 11 23
Mids \ 29 02 24

TransCityRail is a series of regional, interactive and insightful events across the country bringing together leaders, collaborators, problem solvers and innovators in a creative and invigorating way.

This series of events supports and informs the whole of the rail industry and connects suppliers with buyers, specifiers, leaders and decision-makers looking to procure a wide variety of innovative products and services for their region.


Episode 37 - What does the future of transport look like

This episode of Track Talk sees a discussion with Conservative MP for Milton Keynes South Iain Stewart, Chair of the Transport Committee. The focus of this episode revolves around disruptive technologies within the rail sector, specifically the impact that the new, innovative advancements and trends might have across all modes of transport. The Transport Committee are taking proposals from people in the sector who are in the know about innovations that deserve more attention, so we have given them the platform to discuss the process and hear what the committee is looking for. 

More articles...

View all