Farmers say HS2 will stop wildlife breeding

The HS2 route west of Aston le Walls NNL-190730-160854001
The HS2 route west of Aston le Walls NNL-190730-160854001

Farmers say HS2 rail contractors will start tearing up hedgerows around Culworth and Sulgrave within weeks.

The high-speed rail route is due to carve a track through south Northamptonshire past Brackley and through countryside between Chipping Warden and Aston le Walls.

The HS2 route as it carves through Banburyshire countryside  NNL-190730-160904001

The HS2 route as it carves through Banburyshire countryside NNL-190730-160904001

Members of the Banbury Model Flying Club, which is looking for a new place to hold its flying operations because of HS2, says landowners have been told work is imminent.

Stuart Bishop, chairman of the club, said: “We are still looking for a new home but it is getting urgent.

“Farmers and landowners around our field in Sulgrave have been to a meeting with a large number of HS2 people.

“They were told contractors are starting work on September 1 to tear out the hedges. Wherever there is a tunnel planned they are getting rid of all hedges to prevent birds nesting next spring.

“It seems they’re excavating a massive trench and putting in the tunnel, then covering it over.”

Information about HS2 works is published on a communities website, https://hs2.commonplace.is/ where residents can click onto different areas to see detail about published plans for construction.

See hs2bucksandox.co.uk and hs2innorthants.commonplace.is for local routes. The Banbury Guardian has approached HS2 for comment.

The website says: “This year, we’ll continue our enabling works to get us ready for construction. This work includes utility works to make sure supplies to local areas are not affected when we start to build the railway. We’ll also continue with ground investigation surveys. This type of survey helps us understand more about the ground where we want to build the railway. It’s vital we know about the soil before construction begins so we can build effectively.

“Before we build bridges, tunnels, tracks and stations, the largest archaeology programme ever undertaken in the UK will take place along the line of route.

“We’ll share any interesting finds with local communities.”

In a debate brought by South Northants MP, Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom last month, the MP said: “HS2 is not the right infrastructure project, will not improve point-to-point travel times and will not close the north-south divide.

“It will create jobs, yes, but at an eye-wateringly expensive rate, far beyond what we might expect from a similar project.

“I have had cases in South Northamptonshire where family farms have been cut in half, people have been forced to sell their businesses at a vastly undervalued rate and one constituent has been forced out of the family home that she had lived in for many years through a lifetime tenancy under the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986.

“There are countless examples where I have had to intervene time and again on behalf of my constituents, due to the insensitive behaviour and slow engagement of HS2.”

Banbury MP Victoria Prentis said: “We embraced the Oxford-Birmingham canal in the 1790s, we embraced the M40 thirty years ago and we broadly welcome east-west rail.

“We are not against large national infrastructure projects but we object to large national infrastructure projects with no real benefit, for us or for the nation as a whole... I do not feel £100 billion is worth some jobs in Birmingham.”

Mrs Leadsom Tweeted after the debate: “I do believe we need to seriously challenge the business case for HS2 and ensure it is good value for taxpayer money.”