HS2 may be guilty of 'wildlife crime' by felling trees illegally, say lawyers

Legal professionals have warned HS2 it could be felling timber illegally, after an ecology document discovered proof of probably the most UK’s rarest bat species in a space of historical wooded area being cleared for the high-speed rail line.

Felony company Leigh Day has written to HS2 Ltd urging the corporate to halt job at Jones’ Hill wooden, close to Wendover in Buckinghamshire, because it does now not have a licence to hold out paintings that might disturb uncommon barbastelle bat roosts. They are saying to proceed doing so is usually a felony offence.

3 unbiased ecologists used bat detector apparatus to trace the barbastelles, a secure species indexed as “close to threatened” at the world IUCN crimson listing, and compiled a document in their findings.

Paul Powlesland, a barrister at Lawn Courtroom Chambers and founding father of Legal professionals for Nature, which is concerned within the case, mentioned: “That is the most efficient proof that Legal professionals for Nature have noticed of protecting natural world being interfered with through HS2 with out a licence. [We] don’t in reality love to cry wolf about these items.”

“We’ve requested them to prevent paintings and get an unbiased ecologist, who’s cut loose HS2, to do a correct survey of the woods. In the event that they don’t, then they might seem to be glad going forward in instances during which they could also be committing a natural world crime.”

One of the crucial document’s authors is the ecologist Kevin Hand, the vice-president of the Cambridge Herbal Historical past Society, who mentioned: “It’s this kind of uncommon bat that we in reality want to offer protection to each colony, and the regulation could be very transparent about that: each colony is secure.

“The very last thing any people desires are bats destroyed, whether or not you’re for HS2 or in opposition to HS2 is beside the point in reality.”

HS2 Ltd mentioned it had now not recognized any bat roosts on its land in Jones’ Hill Wooden and that its personal surveys during the last six months have been restricted through unlawful trespassers – the ones protesting to offer protection to the woods.

It mentioned it was once sporting out additional surveys now the trespassers have been evicted, and mentioned probably the most timber recognized within the document as a barbastelle roost had prior to now been climbed through protesters, which could have disturbed the animals.

The barbastelle is located in southern and central England and Wales, and only a few breeding websites are identified in the United Kingdom. It’s concept that in depth lack of wooded area is an important explanation why for its rarity.

Tom Brief, a solicitor with Leigh Day, mentioned: “It’s our figuring out that even supposing HS2 Ltd holds a ‘elegance licence’ from Herbal England in admire of bats Herbal England has showed that Jones’ Hill Wooden has now not been registered underneath the category licence and thus that licence does now not authorise works at this website online.

“In any match, the category licence does now not quilt any operations affecting barbastelle bats, whether or not at this website online or another.”

An HS2 Ltd spokesperson mentioned: “HS2 takes its felony duties critically, and all our ecology paintings is performed in response to the regulation. It’s designed to minimise disturbance to natural world, together with bats, in response to the HS2 segment one code of building apply and all related natural world regulation.

“If bat roosts are recognized, licences from Herbal England can be sought to be sure that now we have the suitable safeguarding in position. Professionally certified environmental group of workers are on website online all the way through operations and all works are lost sight of through an ecological clerk of works.”

Herbal England’s nationwide operations director, Dave Slater, mentioned: “Any works that affect bats or different secure species can simplest happen underneath licence, and it’s for HS2 to decide if their proposed works may also be performed with out inflicting hurt. If now not, then they want to observe for a licence from Herbal England.

“If a member of the general public is worried natural world crime is being dedicated, they must document the incident to their native police pressure.”

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