THE Woodland Trust has issued a stark warning that swathes of ancient woodland are living on “borrowed time” as HS2 starts to encroach on countryside.

At least 108 ancient woods are threatened with loss or damage from the two phases of HS2, according to the trust, with 34 being directly affected on Phase 1, with a loss of more than 31 hectares. Ancient woodland along the route is due to be bulldozed this autumn. HS2 is attempting to translocate some sites; a practice the Woodland Trust claims does not work and has proactively campaigned against.

Now, the trust is calling for supporters to lobby upcoming review chairman Douglas Oakervee, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and HS2 minister Paul Maynard to fully consider the evidence around the environmental impacts of the project, while halting all advance work until the review is complete.

Director of conservation and external affairs, Abi Bunker, said: “There is a danger the review will be looking into the business case for HS2, completely ignoring the value of our ancient woodlands and other important wildlife habitats to the fabric and wellbeing of this country.

“Time is of the essence. We need people to act fast and apply pressure to the government to make them realise that HS2 will cost far more than money, and that destroying our precious woodlands is a one-time mistake that will be looked back on in shock by future generations.”