FEARS have been raised for the future of wildlife in Warwickshire as work gets underway on HS2.
The first stage of the plans for the high speed rail line, which will cut through the county, will see the company start early development work.
And while the work will includes the creation of new wildlife habitats, concern has still been raised by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust (WWT) over the ecological impact of the controversial line.
HS2 has said it plans to start work by creating three huge ponds on land at Finham Brook Valley – close to Dalehouse Lane and Kenilworth Golf Club.
The proposed pools would be a total of 600m2 – around the size of a golf green – and would be breeding ponds for great crested newts. Each pond would be around 1.5metres deep.
But WWT say more should be done to try and improve wildlife and conservation, rather than just ‘compensating’ areas affected.
Director of Living Landscapes for WWT Ian Jelley said: “Wildlife Trusts nationally have campaigned against the proposed HS2 route because of the enormous impact it will have on wildlife and to challenge HS2 to raise its ambition for the natural environment.
“The construction phase is now underway and the wildlife trusts will continue to engage with HS2 to maximise the benefits to wildlife.
“At this stage HS2 Ltd has committed to secure ‘no net loss of biodiversity’, which means if the route destroys important wildlife sites then HS2 will look to recreate equivalent sites elsewhere.
“We believe HS2 should be looking to set the benchmark for quality infrastructure projects around the world. The project is designed to put the UK at the forefront of modern transportation technology and net gains for biodiversity, so a key outcome of the project should be achieving ‘gains for nature’ rather than simply ‘no loss’ to biodiversity and mitigation.
“That will mean HS2 recognises the impact of the proposed route on wildlife and works to create an environment that is even better for wildlife along the route.
“The trust is continuing to review information from HS2 and will be monitoring the plans.”
The early works include site investigations, enabling works, demolition and land preparation, and new wildlife habitat creations.
HS2 Ltd intends to carry out early works throughout 2017 ahead of the main contractors starting on site from next year.
A total of 54 kilometres of the 190km route will travel through the heart of Warwickshire, with the first trains set to run in 2026.