15th October 2020
BCT is very concerned about recent events reported to us in relation to HS2 construction and the felling of Jones Hill Wood in Buckinghamshire. All UK bat species and their roosts are protected by law. Any works likely to impact bat habitats (including woodland) need adequate survey work carried out at the correct time of year and if bats will be impacted by these activities then a licence issued by Natural England is required to carry out works legally. We have received reports claiming that survey effort at this site has been too little and at the wrong time of year. If adequate surveys have not taken place appropriately, this would fall short of HS2’s statement that ‘all our ecological work is carried out in accordance with the relevant laws and regulations’, would reflect poor practice and potentially put them at risk of breaching legislation.
This woodland is clearly of significance for bats and biodiversity but reports suggest no licence is in place to allow legal destruction of any bat roosts. If this is the case this raises concerns about the potential for legislation to be breached and we have no reassurance to the contrary at this point in time. We would urge HS2 to bring clarity and make publicly available all the evidence to clarify whether bats and protected species have been adequately surveyed and taken into account including the issuing of any necessary licenses before proceeding with the felling of this woodland.
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