Attorneys have warned HS2 it is likely to be felling timber illegally, after an ecology report discovered proof of one of many UK’s rarest bat species in an space of historical woodland being cleared for the high-speed rail line.
Authorized agency Leigh Day has written to HS2 Ltd urging the corporate to halt exercise at Jones’ Hill wooden, close to Wendover in Buckinghamshire, because it doesn’t have a licence to hold out work that would disturb uncommon barbastelle bat roosts. They are saying to proceed doing so could possibly be a prison offence.
Three unbiased ecologists used bat detector gear to trace the barbastelles, a protected species listed as “close to threatened” on the worldwide IUCN purple checklist, and compiled a report of their findings.
Paul Powlesland, a barrister at Backyard Court docket Chambers and founding father of Attorneys for Nature, which is concerned within the case, mentioned: “That is one of the best proof that Attorneys for Nature have seen of protecting wildlife being interfered with by HS2 with no licence. [We] don’t actually wish to cry wolf about these items.”
“We’ve requested them to cease work and get an unbiased ecologist, who’s separate from HS2, to do a correct survey of the woods. In the event that they don’t, then they might look like completely happy going forward in circumstances through which they could be committing a wildlife crime.”
One of many report’s authors is the ecologist Kevin Hand, the vice-president of the Cambridge Pure Historical past Society, who mentioned: “It’s such a uncommon bat that we actually want to guard each colony, and the regulation could be very clear about that: each colony is protected.
“The very last thing any of us needs are bats destroyed, whether or not you’re for HS2 or in opposition to HS2 is irrelevant actually.”
HS2 Ltd mentioned it had not recognized any bat roosts on its land in Jones’ Hill Wooden and that its personal surveys over the previous six months had been restricted by unlawful trespassers – these protesting to guard the woods.
It mentioned it was finishing up additional surveys now the trespassers had been evicted, and mentioned one of many timber recognized within the report as a barbastelle roost had beforehand been climbed by protesters, which can have disturbed the animals.
The barbastelle is present in southern and central England and Wales, and only a few breeding websites are recognized within the UK. It’s thought that intensive lack of woodland is a major motive for its rarity.
Tom Quick, a solicitor with Leigh Day, mentioned: “It’s our understanding that though HS2 Ltd holds a ‘class licence’ from Pure England in respect of bats Pure England has confirmed that Jones’ Hill Wooden has not been registered below the category licence and thus that licence doesn’t authorise works at this website.
“In any occasion, the category licence doesn’t cowl any operations affecting barbastelle bats, whether or not at this website or some other.”
An HS2 Ltd spokesperson mentioned: “HS2 takes its authorized obligations severely, and all our ecology work is carried out in accordance with the regulation. It’s designed to minimise disturbance to wildlife, together with bats, in accordance with the HS2 part one code of building follow and all related wildlife laws.
“If bat roosts are recognized, licences from Pure England shall be sought to make sure that now we have the fitting safeguarding in place. Professionally certified environmental employees are on website throughout operations and all works are missed by an ecological clerk of works.”
Pure England’s nationwide operations director, Dave Slater, mentioned: “Any works that impression bats or different protected species can solely happen below licence, and it’s for HS2 to find out if their proposed works might be carried out with out inflicting hurt. If not, then they should apply for a licence from Pure England.
“If a member of the general public is worried wildlife crime is being dedicated, they need to report the incident to their native police power.”