HS2 CONSTRUCTION CONCERNS: Fears over ‘Berlin Wall for wildlife’
“Deadly” fences erected as part of HS2 works are dividing Solihull’s countryside and fuelling fears the route will create “a Berlin Wall for wildlife”.
Balsall Common resident Richard Lloyd has raised renewed concerns about the impact “miles and miles” of barriers, along the length of the route, will have on deer and other mammals.
Warning of reports from around the country that animals were getting trapped or fatally injured, he urged Solihull Council to “take serious steps” to address the risks in the construction corridor.
HS2 has insisted that there had been careful consideration about the fencing installed.
However, Mr Lloyd told this week’s HS2 implementation advisory group there had been worries about the impact on habitats since the earliest stages of the project.
He quoted a Times article, published almost ten years ago, which first made the comparison between HS2 and the Cold War-era wall that once separated the German capital.
It alluded to the fear that large-scale infrastructure roads, such as roads or railways tracks, can sever migration routes and wildlife corridors
“This impact is internationally recognised … it’s probably been known for half a century,” he said.
“That particularly deadly style of fencing, where you have two strands of wire at the top, that’s almost purpose designed to trap deer that try and get over it.”
He said he had recently discovered the tracks of a Muntjac stranded between two lines of fencing and while he wasn’t sure it had been able to escape, he added it “was in for a very long walk.”
Claiming HS2’s strategy seemed only to focus on certain protected species – like badgers and bats – he urged the local authority to demand a different approach.
“There is a clear duty [on you] to assess the impact and of course to call in all the evidence needed to make that on a rational basis.
“Solihull Council does have the power to require things to be changed … to preserve the local environment or preserve a site of nature conservation value.”
He argued that the council could insist on action through the planning process and through wildlife legislation, as well as having “considerable influence” with HS2 bosses.
Jonathan Lord, HS2 Ltd’s senior area engagement manager, said that “managing and mitigating” the impact on wildlife was a key part of the scheme.
And he defended the use of “stock-proof fencing” as part of the works.
“The type of fencing is very carefully considered,” he told the meeting.
Concerns that HS2 works were shearing wildlife habitats in two were previously raised in 2019, with particular questions about the barriers encircling the Park Lane depot, at Balsall Common.
Responding at the time, a HS2 spokesman said: “We have carried out surveys of protected species in the area and the fencing we have used is appropriate for this use.
“It’s important that we protect individuals, livestock and other animals from what will be a live construction site.”
Words: David Irwin, Local Democracy Reporter
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