Along with developing new commuter routes, HS2 will be creating new wildlife habitats thanks to a new Woodland fund, announced this week.
Some £5M will be invested in woodlands alongside the route, running from London to the West Midlands, seeing some seven million trees and shrubs planted.
A separate fund has also been established in addition to this, which will help support local landowners in creating new native, broadleaf woodlands and restore existing ancient woodland sites.
The Forestry Commission will manage the first £1M of the Fund on behalf of HS2 Ltd, and applications are being encouraged from landowners located up to 25 miles from the phase one route, which passes through parts of Greater London, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire and Warwickshire, as well as the wider West Midlands.
Transport Minister, Paul Maynard, said: “HS2 is more environmentally responsible than any other major infrastructure project in UK history and this fund will mean more trees can be planted and wildlife habitats created, leaving a lasting legacy which will benefit future generations for many years to come.
“HS2 will become the backbone of our national rail network, supporting growth and regeneration and helping us build an economy that works for all. Despite being one of the largest construction projects in Europe, we are minimising the effects on the countryside and communities as much as possible.”
Peter Miller, HS2 Environment Director, said: “Ahead of our main construction work, we have started to replace, conserve and enhance any wildlife habitats that will be affected by the railway. Over time, we’ll be creating a green corridor of connected wildlife habitats, which will blend the railway into the landscape and support local species ranging from bats to badgers.
“In addition, we’re keen to go beyond the immediate boundaries of the railway and take this opportunity to improve the wider natural environment, in partnership with local people. The HS2 Woodland Fund is part of that commitment and we’re looking forward to receiving applications early next year.”
Funding will open in January next year, and landowners are being encouraged to discuss potential applications with the Forestry Commission prior to this.