HS2 Ltd has confirmed to the Woodland Trust it will begin the futile act of attempting to move the soil from five ancient woodlands during April.
The move goes against both conservation principles and guidance from Natural England.
The five sites are Broadwells Wood, Birches Wood, Crackley Wood, and Ashow Road, all in Warwickshire, and Fulfen Wood in Staffordshire. The work will take around eight weeks.
Trust ecologist Luci Ryan said: “Instead of bursting into life, these irreplaceable ancient woodlands now face imminent death. Attempting to move ancient woodland soils from one site to another is flawed. Attempting it in April doubly so. Add into the mix that the contractor doing it has never translocated ancient woodland nor visited a translocated site and it’s a recipe for disaster. It’s like getting a bike mechanic to service a Boeing.”
Translocation is defined as the physical removal of a habitat from one location to another in an attempt to offset the impact of development on the ecological interest of a site. Unfortunately, it is increasingly being suggested as a form of environmental compensation for proposed developments. However, translocation is not feasible for ancient woodland because ancient woodland is defined as an irreplaceable habitat. Natural England guidance clearly states that an “ancient woodland ecosystem cannot be moved”. It is therefore not an appropriate alternative to conservation in situ.