BBC reports developers hoping to build a £2.5bn theme park on a wildlife haven have challenged the site’s protected status. London Resort claims Natural England is attempting to “frustrate” its plans to build on Swanscombe Peninsula in Kent.
The area was protected as a site of special scientific interest (SSSI), due to its “enormous value as a green space and refuge” for people and wildlife. Conservationists said the objection was a “transparent” attempt to undermine the ecological importance of the site.
The BBC reports the RSPB has called for the felling of trees in the path of the HS2 rail link to be investigated. The bird charity criticised government and HS2 as ecologists launched a legal challenge against licences issued to permit the felling of trees in Jones’ Hill Wood in Buckinghamshire.
It said the felling risked “undermining every environmental commitment” the government had made about HS2. HS2 said it took its “environmental responsibilities seriously”. The legal action is being brought by a member of Earth Protectors.
The Guardian reports a “rewilding” of arable fields by HS2 will create 127 hectares (314 acres) of wood pasture, wetlands and flower-rich grassland using chalk taken from tunnelling under the Chilterns.
The new wildlife haven will be founded upon all 3m tonnes of chalk that are to be excavated from the high-speed railway’s 10-mile Chilterns tunnel, with construction starting in May.
The Guardian reports a building firm that carried out demolition work at a site known to be inhabited by bats has been handed a £600,000 fine, the largest ever issued by a court for a wildlife crime, according to police.
Bellway, the housebuilders, admitted damaging or destroying a breeding site or resting place in Artillery Place, Greenwich, south-east London, in 2018, where soprano pipistrelle bats had been documented the previous year.
The Times reports thousands of birds could be saved from being killed by wind farms by painting one blade on each turbine black, a study suggests. Eagles and other soaring birds of prey are particularly vulnerable to wind farms and they benefit most from making the blades more visible.
The Guardian reports politicians and developers must incorporate green thinking into the design of new infrastructure, according to the chair of the government’s conservation watchdog.
Natural England’s Tony Juniper called on the government and planners to change their thinking to ensure environmental considerations were designed into new housing estates, as well as road and rail projects, at the beginning, rather than being a hasty “add-on” or “mitigation” at the end.
The Guardian reports the clearing of ancient woods for HS2 is to proceed this month after the high court refused an emergency injunction and judicial review of the government’s decision to proceed with the high-speed railway.
HS2’s felling of woodlands in spring when birds are nesting has been widely condemned by wildlife charities but the conservationist Chris Packham’s attempt to halt “enabling” works was rejected after the court decided there was “no real prospect of success” for a judicial review.
The Independent reports tens of thousands of trees planted to mitigate the environmental impact of the High Speed Rail 2 (HS2) route have died following the 2018 summer drought.
More than one-third of saplings planted in 2017-18 had to be replaced a year later, bosses admitted, as they said putting in new plants was cheaper than keeping the old ones alive. Some 89,000 trees planted between November 2017 and March 2018 later died, out of a total of 234,000 – or 38 per cent.