Coventry & Warwickshire

HS2: Cubbington Wood Protest Group Camp living in woodland

HS2
Image caption The Cubbington Wood protest group has been at the Warwickshire site since Saturday

HS2 campaigners are living in the heart of ancient woodland for "the coming months" until a decision is made on the railway line's future.

Work to clear a pathway in Warwickshire was stopped by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, with the £62bn project under an independent review.

The Cubbington Wood Protest Group Camp said it was "willing to do whatever it takes" to preserve rural surroundings.

A government decision on HS2's review is expected this year.

Last month, it was announced that work affecting 11 ancient woodlands in Warwickshire and Staffordshire, which was due to go ahead this autumn, had been deferred until 2020.

Up to 50 protestors have been at the South Cubbington Wood site, which is four-miles north of Leamington Spa, since Saturday.

'Preservation of woodland'

Protestor Matt Bishop said the group had a level of "mistrust" over the government's decision to halt clearance work, with other preparatory works including low-level vegetation clearance, fencing and preparation of site access continuing.

"Right now we are willing to do whatever it takes to ensure the preservation of the woodland," he said.

"Communities don't want this project. We want to stay here to stop the work until this government review is complete and a decision is made in the coming months."

Image caption Matt Bishop said the environmental group will do "whatever it takes" to preserve ancient woodland

Other campaigners have raised concerns that woods are still in jeopardy, with protesters led by TV presenter and naturalist Chris Packham setting up a "woodland" outside HS2 headquarters.

An HS2 spokeswoman said they "must strike a sensible balance between keeping the programme on track, and recognising that some works cannot be undone".

Work is being deferred until early 2020 at Fulfen Wood, Staffordshire, and at Broadwells Wood, Birches Wood, Crackley Wood, unnamed woodland south of Ashow Road and South Cubbington Wood in Warwickshire.

Work is also being deferred until autumn and winter 2020 at Roughknowles Wood, North Wood and Burnt Firs, Warwickshire, and an unnamed copse off Drayton Lane and Rookery Wood, Staffordshire.

The scheme is being reviewed by ex-HS2 chairman Douglas Oakervee, who was commissioned by the government to analyse whether and how the project should continue.

HS2 railway.
HS2
HS2 in numbers

  • £55.6bn Existing budget

  • £32.7bnOriginal budget

  • £7.4bnAlready spent on the project

  • 9,000Jobs supported by the railway

  • 345 milesNew high-speed track

  • 50 minutesJourney time saving between London and Manchester

Source: HS2

Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, and sign up for local news updates direct to your phone.

More on this story