HS2 will 'destroy' 11 Staffordshire wildlife sites, trust claims

HS2 image of proposed train The proposed route of HS2 would pass through 34 miles of land in Staffordshire

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The second phase of the HS2 high-speed rail line will destroy 11 important nature sites in Staffordshire, a charity has claimed.

Staffordshire Wildlife Trust said the line would damage sites in Lichfield, Stafford and Newcastle-under-Lyme which are important habitats for birds, animals and plantlife.

It claimed HS2 Ltd had not done enough research on its environmental impact.

HS2 Ltd said it welcomed the trust's comments.

Kate Dewey, of Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, said HS2 Ltd had underestimated how much damage would be done to nature sites because its studies did not use "up-to-date information or present an accurate picture".

She said: "HS2 Ltd have only considered the nationally protected wildlife sites such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and have not requested information on local wildlife sites and records that are held by the trust and other county recorders along the route."

'Developing HS2's design'

The trust said it had submitted its concerns as part of the consultation into the building of phase two of the high-speed line.

It said it had also asked HS2 to make sure "green infrastructure" was included along the rail line such as cycle and footpaths, new animal habitats and flood management measures.

HS2 Ltd spokesman Ben Ruse said: "As such no Sites of Special Scientific Interest are directly affected by HS2 in Staffordshire, or along any of the route to Manchester.

"We welcome the views from The Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, and that of others, as we continue to develop HS2's design."

Current proposals for the £50bn HS2 project would allow trains to run at 225 mph (362km/h) from London to Birmingham from 2026, with branches to Manchester and to Leeds via Sheffield planned by 2032.

The government's proposed route would go through 34 miles of land in Staffordshire and would require the demolition of about 20 properties in the county.

A final route for phase two is expected to be chosen by the end of 2014.

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