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Campaigners fight to stop HS2 works at nature reserve

The Wildlife Trust is highlighting the damage which is set to be caused to one of its nature reserves in Buckinghamshire if clearance work for the HS2 rail route goes ahead.

The multi-billion pound High Speed Two (HS2) project linking London to the Midlands and the north of England would run through the Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire countryside - meaning those behind the project need to clear large tracts of land.

The Government has said that the route is essential to the country's future, will boost the economy, protect the environment and transfer lots of traffic from our roads onto the railway tracks instead. However environmentalists say the HS2 plans will ruin the countryside.

The Calvert Jubilee nature reserve in Buckinghamshire is about six miles from Bicester in Oxfordshire. The reserve covers 22 hectares of land and lies in the path of the proposed HS2 route.

The Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) says that the railway would cut along the eastern side of the reserve and the western side of nearby Finemere Wood. Since news of the route emerged, BBOWT has produced reports and delivered petitions to Parliamentary Select Committees calling for better protection of wildlife.

The reserve contains a lakeside habitat

In August, Prime Minister Boris Johnson commissioned an independent review into whether the Government should go ahead with HS2. The Oakervee Review is due to publish a report with its recommendations in Autumn 2019.

The Oakervee Review is looking at issues such as the timescale, cost and impact of HS2.

There is speculation as to whether the published report could spell the end of the scheme.

HS2 Limited has defended its project saying that the rail route will help to tackle climate change.

“One of the biggest challenges facing this country is climate change and road and air travel are significant contributors to this.

''The most effective way to cut transport carbon emissions in the UK and improve our air quality is to invest in rail, including HS2. This is the only way we will get people out of their cars, off domestic flights and take lorries off our congested roads.”

– HS2 Ltd spokesperson

An HS2 spokesperson also said that the firm is well advanced with the creation of a Green Corridor along the route of HS2, and so far 350,000 trees have been planted and twenty six areas of new habitat created for wildlife.

However the BBOWT counters that argument, Matthew Stanton from the organisation says that trees do not mature into habitats overnight:

''The problem is that this is is a very well established and mature bit of scrubland, wetland, grassland it's been here for decades if not centuries. It takes a long time for habitats to mature so wildlife can actually live there.

''You can't cut down a load of trees, plant some new ones and expect wildlife to move over. Those trees need time to actually mature so they can sustain our environment.''

– Matthew Stanton, BBOWT
The nature reserve covers 22 hectares of land

The BBOWT is calling for any plans for clearance of nature reserves to be put aside until the review report is published.

HS2 Limited said that 'the government announced that the start of the Oakervee Review, that limited preparatory works on the project will continue in parallel.'

The HS2 spokesperson added that no clearance work at Calvert Jubilee nature reserve is due to begin before the end of 2019.

Watch a report below, by Alice Key, about the HS2 project so far: