More than 350,000 trees have been planted by HS2 as part of efforts to create a Green Corridor of trees and wildlife along the route of the new railway.
As well as improving connectivity, boosting the economy and unlocking new jobs and opportunities, HS2 will also work for the environment and local communities. The Green Corridor consists of new wildlife habitats, native woodlands and community spaces to help integrate the new railway into its surrounding landscape and environment.
Eventually, HS2 will plant seven million new trees and shrubs on Phase One of the railway. More than 40 different species of tree are being grown at a specialist nursery in Lincolnshire, including species that are native to each area that HS2 passes through.
In total, 48 habitat mitigation sites have been created along Phase One of the railway, which include trees, grassland, ponds, wildlife refuges, reptile basking banks, and structures for bat and barn owl homes.
One of the sites is Decoypond Wood, part of the Bernwood Forest area of Buckinghamshire, where mitigation work has already started. HS2’s enabling works contractor Fusion and their suppliers Forkers are currently completing the planting of over 1,000 trees at the site. This has been designed to create a new flight path for a rare species of bat known as the Bechstein’s Bat which is native to this area.
Further north on the route, on the banks of the River Tame in the north of Coleshill in Warwickshire, HS2’s landscape architects WSP and early works contractor LM JV have recently finished a new wildlife habitat which contains a mix of grassland and wetland areas, providing a home in which the endangered water vole can thrive.
In addition to the mitigation works, HS2 has a number of different funds, projects and partnerships designed specifically to support the environment and communities.
Community and Environment Funds and Business and Local Economy Funds have seen £2.5m awarded across 47 projects in 14 constituencies. Among the successful bids was Forest Enterprise England who secured £450,000 CEF funding towards the creation of a visitors hub at Wendover Woods which it is hoped will attract 420,000 visitors and £4.3m into the rural economy each year.
Work is also taking place in the Colne Valley and Chilterns Area of Natural Beauty where a £3m fund has been set up in each area by HS2 to deliver individual environmental projects. In the Colne Valley, 12 projects have already been funded worth over £800,000.
Additionally, £1 million has been allocated through the HS2 Woodland Fund, which will see 18 projects deliver 85ha of new woodland and 50ha of ancient woodland restoration.
Peter Miller, HS2 Environment Director, said: “Our ecological work is really important in reducing our environmental footprint and minimising the expected impact of our construction work.
“Green Corridor and the various funds we are making available along Phase One of the route have seen our work on the ground accelerate over the last 12 months as we prepare for the main works.
“This will continue and people can expect to see new sites developed in the years to come and the gradual emergence of the new Green Corridor along the route.”