Protecting threatened wildlife and wild places from HS2 (High Speed Rail)

As the Government campaign for HS2 stressed the benefits to business in both the North and South, wildlife appeared to have been marginalised.

When the initial plans were announced, we were shocked to hear that the route to Wigan would cut straight though vital areas of mossland and affect threatened species like the willow tit and water vole. It was also proposed that the line would include a '24-7' floodlit marshalling yard alongside the Lightshaw Meadows nature reserve, managed by the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Greater Manchester and North Merseyside in partnership with Red Rose Forest. This is also not far from our Abram Flash nature reserve. Both locally and nationally, we asked Government to rethink their plans to offer more consideration for wildlife and its habitats. 

On 15 November 2016, we were relieved to discover that the Department of Transport was consulting on withdrawing the marshalling yard proposal next to Lightshaw Meadows and Abram Flashes. The consultation closed on 9 March 2017 and we responded with evidence supporting the proposed relocation. On 17 July 2017, the Government accepted our and others’ arguments and relocated the proposed yard to a site near Crewe that has less impact on wildlife.

This is a small but significant victory for our local advocacy, and that of other local people and groups, but we must remain vigilant. HS2 still remains committed to making things worse for wildlife, rather than making them better. The proposed route through Wigan Borough still severs our Great Manchester Wetlands Living Landscape scheme – a locally designated Nature Improvement Area – and the confirmed route of the spur through the City of Manchester tunnels under urban woodlands, some ancient and identified as Local Wildlife Sites.

Until detailed consultation proposals are produced, probably in November 2018, we won’t know how severed linkages in the Great Manchester Wetlands will be addressed or if, or how, ventilation shafts or spoil and equipment associated with tunnel construction may impact on the Manchester woodlands wildlife and local people’s enjoyment of it.

Read about A Greener Vision for HS2 nationally, and how other local Wildlife Trusts are affected by HS2.