To: Andrew Stephenson, Minister for Transport
URGENTLY SUSPEND FELLING AT JONES HILL WOODS
Suspend Felling at Jones Hill Wood until outcome of legal proceedings.
Why is this important?
The ancient and beautiful Jones’ Hill Wood in Buckinghamshire is being felled as we write. We have a legal case awaiting hearing, but each minute is precious and trees are still being felled.
HS2 entered Jones Hill back in October 2020, with intention to fell without surveys, let alone a licence from Natural England. Earth Protectors and Ecologists on the ground had been surveying the woods and identified several bat species, including the endangered barbastelle bat. Over the past 6 months, the team has been represented by Lawyers and supported by the Woodland Trust to hold both Natural England and HS2 to account and to ensure that adequate surveys were carried out and that Natural England fulfilled its Statutory role to protect the natural environment by issuing a well-considered licence that would protect the barbastelle bats in particular and ensure their conservation. Despite constant scrutiny, Natural England have now issued a licence to destroy bat roosts on tenuous grounds. The mitigation put forward by HS2 for the loss of habitats for the barbastelle and other families of bats were on flimsy and highly questionable grounds.
We believe that Natural England has failed in its statutory duty and that the needs of barbastelle families are nowhere near being met by the compensation proposed. As such we have resorted to the Courts to initiate legal proceedings and hold them to account. However, legal action takes time. This is time the trees and the creatures they home do not have. HS2 continue to fell and seem adamant to destroy what they can before they can be stopped by the law. Another minute, another tree felled.
We the undersigned, on behalf of the endangered barbastelle refuges, plead that you pause all felling of this irreplaceable natural assets and rethink, with an open mind, the other options available to you and certainly do the right thing and HALT ALL FELLING UNTIL THIS CASE IS HEARD.
This issue is important, not just for the barbastelle bats at Jones Hill Woods but for all other endangered species of wildlife that are under threat from construction projects. We need to hold Natural England to account and make sure the law is enforced to protect all wildlife that is meant to protect.