Press release by independent ecologists
The chainsaws are out on Leather Lane, Buckinghamshire, as HS2 have begun felling 50 large oak trees where a professional ecology report has confirmed it is likely that bats will be hibernating. HS2 have been informed but have begun destroying the trees and putting them straight in the chipper. Any hibernating bats will likely be killed. Jim Ashton, an Ecologist whose land backs on to the line of Oaks told us:
I have spent the last 18 months observing and documenting the diverse Ecology in and around these majestic Oaks; from roosting bats, to nesting blue tits, tawny owls, breeding tree creepers and a resident Kestrel in the NW corner. To me, it is inconceivable that work can continue in breach of Wildlife Crimes and thorough Ecological surveys as Police stand by. HS2 and their subcontractors need to be held to account. It’s a scandal beyond words.
Local outrage over the unnecessary felling of the magnificent Leather Lane oaks, planted by Arthur Lasenby Liberty in the 1800s, led to an independent ecologist checking HS2’s work and finding a bat roosting feature with possible signs of use including scratch marks and smoothed edges where bats naturally exit. However, the ecologist concluded that it was impossible to determine if the roosting feature is inhabited until May, when bats become active. Despite communication with HS2, this has tragically been ignored and felling has prematurely begun.
Evidence shows that HS2 have removed bird boxes with active nests being built, which is a wildlife crime, in order to not delay tree felling (see Appendix 1).
This is a criminal offence. (https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/advice/wildlife-and-the-law/wildlife-and-countryside-act/)
HS2 have also refused to produce surveys to lawyers from Richard Buxton Environmental Solicitors. Natural England have confirmed that HS2 do not have a bat licence. Environmental Campaigner Andrew Cedarwood stated:
HS2 state high ecological standards but repeatedly refuse access to their surveys because they have totally ignored professional standards from the government and the Bat Conservation Trust. The fact that ecological due diligence must be done in appropriate season may be inconvenient for HS2 but it also prevents murdering protected species and criminal offences.
All UK bat species and their roosts are protected by law. Any works likely to impact bat habitats (including woodland) need adequate survey work carried out at the correct time of year and if bats will be impacted by these activities then a licence issued by Natural England is required to carry out works legally. We have received reports claiming that survey efforts at this site have been too little and at the wrong time of year. If adequate surveys have not taken place appropriately, this would fall short of HS2’s statement that ‘all our ecological work is carried out in accordance with the relevant laws and regulations, would reflect poor practice and potentially put them at risk of breaching legislation.
These actions have sent shockwaves across the local community with angry locals coming out to voice their dismay over the lack of care or thought to the historical landscape which the local wildlife rely on. The lack of due diligence has sparked outrage in the community igniting a petition which has reached 38,295 signatures so far.
Key video – Video Felling 1: https://twitter.com/JimAshton_/status/1372147400974888960?fbclid=IwAR1t YOZHR1c3ylhsULmn8oh-pJGZ580EO_q4_0uK4-0KUPIiCEiPDsOm-Sk
Andrew Cedarwood, “acting press officer”: 07484 154 605 Mark Keir, Earth Protector and witness: 07591 924 983 Lindsey Spinks, Lawyers for Nature: 07915 604 838
Appendix 1 – Evidence of removal of Active Bird Nest
- HS2 removed a bird box from a tree and confirmed that they have checked with an endoscope and found a small ball of moss inside. HS2 are informed that this is the start of a bird nest. HS2 refuse to allow the landowner to see the nest. https://twitter.com/i/status/1371417177983746049
- HS2 inform the BBC that:
“The nesting boxes found today were put in trees by activists as part of an orchestrated campaign to frustrate the works” This is not only untrue (bird boxes were put in place by a local resident) but does not change the law around removing a nest. It seems to be an admission of guilt
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000tbb9 (starts about 4 minutes in)
- HS2 have been repeatedly informed that these are active bird nests, therefore these actions are clearly intentional:
- Further footage will be available this evening. These trees are currently being felled, which is a continuation of an offence under Section 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981)