Mark Keir has challenged Natural England over their decision to allow HS2 to fell trees in Jones Hill Wood near the high speed railway route in Buckinghamshire.
HS2 have been granted permission to fell 0.7 hectares of woodland as part of their project to build a multi billion pound 330 mile rail link between London & Birmingham, with trains travelling up to 250 miles per hour & 14 services per hour.
Credit Simon Mortimer
Jones Hill Wood, seen here behind Durham Farm is a 1.8 hectare ancient woodland in an area of outstanding natural beauty in the Chilterns.
Just under half of this ancient woodland will be felled to make way for HS2.
Most of the trees in Jones Hill Wood are Beech with an understorey of holly. It is home to several mammal species including badgers, foxes, bats & owls.
While no mammal should be evicted from their home for this abomination of a railway, the bats at Jones Hill Wood are a particular concern to me.
Jones Hill Wood is home to the Barbestelle bat, a European bat that has been given vulnerable status. Sources tell us that there are Barbestelle bat maternity roosts in the wood where pregnant bats congregate to give birth, often returning to the same roosts every year. The young bats remain in the maternity roosts being cared for by their mothers until they are old enough to fly, which would be at around five weeks of age.
Disturbances to these roosts or within the vicinity of them will most likely result in the young bats being abandoned by their mothers.
Members of the public are educated in this matter & for this reason we are advised to check our lofts for signs of roosting bats before any work is carried out, because bats are very well protected in law.
Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) (as amended)
Conservation Of Habitats and Species Regulations (2017) (as amended)
Quoting The Bats Trust we are not permitted to
Natural England can issue licenses where work is taking place in an area bats are known to be but these licenses are not easily obtained & come with conditions including very thorough site surveys.
But surely nobody is going to be granted a license for any activity which will most definitely disturb a vulnerable species & possibly do them great harm?
The answer to that is if you are HS2 you can have one, it appears that HS2 can do whatever they please, or certainly a great deal more than the general public can.
Isn't it a shame that ecocide isn't a legally recognised crime.
Credit Carl Van Vechten
"On a hill above a valley there was a wood. In the wood there was a huge tree. Under the tree there was a hole. In the hole live Mr Fox and Mrs Fox and their four Small Foxes"
Roald Dahl, Fantastic Mr Fox
Author Roald Dahl lived nearby the wood & visited often enjoying the trees & the wildlife they sustained & appreciating the carpet of wildflowers beneath his feet. Native plants such as bluebells, dog violet, primrose & dogs mercury. Dogs mercury is an excellent indicator of ancient woodland & remains in areas even when the trees are removed.
It is said that many of Roald Dahl's books were inspired as he took his walks through the wood, such is its therapeutic value. Probably the most famous of his books associated with the wood is Fantastic Mr Fox.
Anyone who read the book will know it is a delight. Fantastic Mr Fox has glorious adventures in the wood as he sets about thwarting the efforts of local farmers Boggis, Bunce & Bean. The Bunce family still farm in the area & are reported to be devastated that half the wood is to fall victim to HS2.
I am very glad that Roald Dahl wrote Fantastic Mr Fox & am looking forward to reading it to my grandchildren. But what if they ask me about Jones Hill Wood. What shall I tell them? Will I tell them that we destroyed an important part of our natural world so we could get somewhere a bit quicker.
Credit HS2 Rebellion
Mark Keir & Willow voice their concerns over HS2 breaking the conditions of their license in the video above.
I have seen evidence of bright lights being set up in Jones Hill Wood several months ago. The lighting is similar to that which would be used to light a football stadium.
Bats are nocturnal animals & will be disturbed by the lighting which we are told is on all night long. The light will stop them coming out of their roosts to feed or force them into areas which do not have optimal conditions for them to thrive.
Credit Joshua Veitch-Michaelis
The picture above is a British Rail Class 373, a high speed train which currently exists & is likely to be similar to what we will be getting with our 330 mile track between London & Birmingham. It's what will zoom through our countryside. It's what our ancient woodlands, mammals & native flora are being sacrificed for.
And if this ecocide wasn't bad enough I worry that it is sending a very clear message to anyone with a few quid in their back pocket & a building project to roll out. HS2 is an advertisement for power & what can be achieved by those with it.
Mr Kier's challenge was overturned with a judge saying that none of the grounds he had put forward were “arguable”.
Previously judge Mrs Justice Lang, had imposed an injunction on April 16 which paused HS2 from carrying out work because of the litigation.
Mr Kier is considering an appeal.
Dog Desk Radio is meeting with Mr Kier shortly to talk about this matter, please follow us on twitter for news of an air date for that conversation. You can find us on twitter here