HS2 are appealing the suspension of felling at the Jones Hill Wood site
On 30 March a licence was granted by Natural England to allow HS2 to fell trees in Jones Hill Wood, near Wendover, Buckinghamshire.
However, Mark Keir from The Jones Hill Earth Protectors began a legal challenge against Natural England over the licence and perceived associated regulatory failure.
On 16 April HS2 were ordered to cease felling trees at the site, until the case could be heard, which may not happen until 24 May.
HS2 have appealed this decision though, and a permission hearing is expected to take place today at 10.30am.
Natural England have a blogpost here explaining the licence, explaining their position in this situation and answering questions. One question and answer is below.
Q: Is Natural England scrutinising HS2 fully when considering applications of wildlife licences?
A: We follow the same principles for all developments. Decisions on license applications often require an assessment of highly complex data, in which survey information on protected species is rarely complete. Our staff frequently need to make finely balanced decisions using professional judgement based on their expert knowledge of the species in question. Because the circumstances of each development is unique, we have some flexibility in determining the level of survey information that is necessary to understand the impacts of works. We are required under the regulations to take account of the impact and cost of delays to works, when considering if further surveys are needed to provide sufficient certainty that the conservation status of a species can be maintained. Such decisions are made wholly independently of the wants of developers or any other interested parties.
For more about Natural England, including its services and information, visit https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/natural-england