Wednesday, 21 February 2018

HS2 Ancient Woodlands

HS2 has produced a document detailing their mitigation strategy for the 36 Ancient Woodlands to be destroyed or otherwise affected by the proposed railway.

The complete original document is here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/hs2-phase-one-ancient-woodland-strategy

Below is an extract of the details as they affect our local woodlands.

Broadwells Wood

This map can be enlarged by clicking on it...



Broadwells Wood (15.6ha) is identified on the ancient woodland inventory, and contains both areas of semi-natural ancient woodland and PAWS [Plantation on Ancient Woodland Site]. It is located between Crackley Wood and the village of Burton Green. It is a LWS [Local Wildlife Site] in Warwickshire, and supports lowland mixed deciduous woodland, a Habitat of Principal Importance.

Broadwells Wood comprises mature standards of pedunculate oak, birch and ash, together with some conifers and sycamore, over an understorey of hazel coppice, holly and common hawthorn.

The woodland appears to have been felled during the Second World War, as indicated on aerial photographs from 1945. It is likely that the woodland was planted with stands of broadleaved trees and conifers after this period. An area of 1.5ha has been cleared recently and replanted with oak, ash and cherry along the north-western edge. There is evidence of pheasant rearing (old pheasant pens) and shooting (a high seat), the latter of which is likely to have been the reason for the removal of a certain amount of the understorey vegetation.

The woodland canopy is composed of pedunculate and ash standards. Planted Scots pine, Norway spruce, common larch (Larix decidua), sweet chestnut and sycamore are also present.

The main woodland community is W10a [W10a is a reference used in the National Vegetation Classification] Quercus robur-Pteridium aquilinum-Rubus fruticosus woodland, typical sub-community, which has bluebell, bracken and bramble dominant in the field layer (with a MATCH coefficient of 53%) [MATCH is an algorithm for comparing two plant communities]. Immediately adjacent to the streams, ponds and wetter depressions, the vegetation is influenced by moister and more base-rich conditions with abundant tufted hair-grass and lesser celandine, and occasional patches of wood anemone, opposite-leaved golden-saxifrage, enchanter’s nightshade, common marshbedstraw and cuckoo flower.

This woodland community is W8b Fraxinus excelsior-Acer campestre-Mercurialis perennis woodland, Anemone nemorosa sub-community. The wood anemone sub-community (W8b) generally has a south-easterly distribution in Britain, common on heavy base-rich soils, but is less common and more scattered in distribution in Warwickshire, the Midlands and northwest Britain.

Valuation

Broadwells Wood has been assessed as having a conservation status significant at the county/metropolitan level.

Measures taken to avoid or reduce impacts

Changes to the scheme brought forward in the SES [Supplementary Environmental Statement] and AP2 ES, mean that an area of approximately 0.7ha of ancient woodland located within the Hybrid Bill limits will now be retained and not utilised or otherwise directly impacted during either construction or operation (see Figure EC-AWS-014) [the map reproduced above].

Impacts and associated effects

Loss of approximately 2.8ha of ancient semi-natural woodland and 0.4ha of replanted ancient woodland was reported in the main ES, a total of 3.2ha. However, recent updates to the scheme GIS [Geographic Information System; Ordnance Survey] database has increased the accuracy of the figures previously reported and the expected loss of ancient woodland at Broadwell Wood is now expected to be approximately 3.6ha (see Figure EC-AWS-014). The retained sections will be fragmented by the scheme.

While the area of woodland affected is slightly larger than that which was reported in the main ES [Environmental Statement] this remains a permanent adverse effect on the conservation status of ancient woodland which will be significant at a county/metropolitan level.


Black Waste Wood

This map, which also shows Little Poors Wood, can be enlarged by clicking on it...




Only part of Black Waste Wood was identified on the ancient woodland inventory as seminatural ancient woodland during the production of the main ES in 2012/2013. Following a review of historic mapping in 2014 the area recognised as ancient semi-natural woodland increased, with these areas added to the ancient woodland inventory in October 2015.

Black Waste Wood is located east of Burton Green and north of the Kenilworth Greenway. The main woodland site slopes gently towards the south-east, bounded by the gardens of houses in Burton Green to the west, and by arable fields and pasture along the northern and eastern perimeters. A small stream runs through the lower (southern) part of the site, and there are minor wood banks running along parts of the eastern boundary.

Black Waste Wood supports lowland mixed deciduous woodland, a Habitat of Principal Importance. NVC [National Vegetation Classification] surveys were carried out in 2012 and 2013 (Main ES Volume 5 Appendix EC-001-003) due to different land parcels being accessible in different years. The surveys recorded the main body of Black Waste Wood has having a canopy of pedunculate oak, silver birch, downy birch and rowan, with an understorey of holly, common hawthorn, hazel and honeysuckle. The most abundant species are bramble, ivy, and native bluebell, the latter being very abundant. Yellow archangel is locally prominent, forming patches; and bracken is very abundant under the open birch canopy in the north of the compartment.

There appears to have been little recent management. Non-native invasive plant species are present within the woodland, including rhododendron. There were occasional signs of grazing, and muntjac deer (Muntiacus reevesi) were seen. Areas adjacent to the housing have been disturbed and clearings made, and part of the site, adjacent to the north-west ownership boundary, has been replanted with pine. The part of the LWS within the land required for construction of the original scheme has been partially clear felled and used for horse grazing. Many of the open cleared areas are dominated by bracken.

This woodland community is primarily W10c Quercus robur-Pteridium aquilinum-Rubus fruticosus woodland, Hedera helix sub-community (with a MATCH coefficient of similarity of 64%), which is present where there is a closed canopy. It is likely that this grades to W10d Quercus robur-Pteridium aquilinum-Rubus fruticosus woodland, Holcus lanatus sub-community in the north of the compartment where it joins the greater part of Black Waste Wood. These sub-communities are variations of the typical sub-community, widespread on base-poor soils in the British lowlands, and relatively common where traditional woodland management is no longer undertaken.

Valuation

Part of Black Waste Wood was identified as being included on the ancient woodland inventory in the main ES.

The whole of Black Waste Wood, including a section along Red Lane, was identified as potential ancient woodland in the SES (Part 1 of the SES and AP2 ES) as a result of additional cultural heritage baseline information. As the whole of Black Waste Wood was collectively valued in the main ES as of county/metropolitan value, the valuation did not change within the SES.

Measures taken to avoid or reduce impacts

There were no specific measures taken to avoid or reduce the loss of ancient woodland at Little Poors Wood. To avoid impacting local residents in the Burton Green area, the Greenway was used for the alignment of the route. As such, the route of the railway is constrained in this location and it was not possible to implement measures to avoid or reduce impacts to Black Waste Wood.

Impacts and associated effects

The loss of woodland habitat was reported in the main ES although none of this loss was from woodland that was identified as ancient reported within the main ES.

Following review of historic mapping the SES and AP2 ES updated the assessment reported in the main ES, and identified that the scheme was expected to result in the loss of 1.4ha of ancient woodland at Black Waste Wood. This was assessed as an adverse effect significant at the county/metropolitan level.

Since publication of the SES and AP2 ES Black Waste Wood has been added to the ancient woodland inventory. However, based on further review of field data and aerial photography, the area identified in the inventory as ancient has been reduced to exclude areas of habitat along the north western boundary that show evidence of previous clearance. As a consequence, the loss of ancient woodland at Black Waste Wood is now expected to be 0.6ha, this is a 0.8ha reduction on that stated within the SES and AP2 ES (see Figure EC-AWS-015) [the map reproduced above]. This remains an adverse effect significant at the county/metropolitan level.

Translocation of ancient woodland soil

No translocation of ancient woodland soil is proposed for Black Waste Wood, as the quality of woodland being affected is too low to justify translocation, in particular due to a dense cover of rhodendron making the soil unsuitable for translocation.

Soil conditions

The soil conditions at Black Waste Wood are classified as ‘Slowly permeable seasonally wet slightly acid but base-rich loamy and clayey soils’.

Woodland planting

Wood planting comprises a 0.2ha of woodland habitat creation adjacent to the retained part of Black Waste Wood (see Figure EC-AWS-015).

Enhancement of ancient woodland

An 8.3ha area of retained ancient woodland at Black Waste Wood will be subject to woodland management and enhancement (see Figure EC-AWS-015). This measure is provided as compensation for losses to several areas of woodlands in CFA18 that have been added to the ancient woodland inventory since the main ES (including Black Waste Wood itself). The management and enhancement will include measures such as the removal of invasive plant species such as rhododendron, and management of dead wood habitat and trees for the benefit of wildlife, particularly invertebrates and bats.


Little Poors Wood

Little Poors Wood was not included on the ancient woodland inventory in 2012. Little Poors Wood appears on the ancient woodland inventory in October 2015 as ancient semi-natural woodland. Little Poors Wood forms one half of Little Poors and Big Poors Wood LWS.

Little Poors Wood is a small deciduous woodland of 1.4ha located at Burton Green, Warwickshire. The woodland supports lowland mixed deciduous woodland, a Habitat of Principal Importance. NVC surveys carried out in 2013 (Main ES Volume 5 Appendix EC-001-003) recorded a canopy of mature pedunculate oak (up to 25m in height) with occasional silver birch. In the understorey, neglected hazel coppice is locally dominant with occasional rowan.

The shrub layer is well developed and consists of bramble, common hawthorn, Midland hawthorn, elder and occasional holly. There are some clearings dominated by bracken and replanted with young trees. The ground flora is well developed but limited to a few species indicative of acidic ground conditions including bracken, broad buckler-fern, creeping softgrass and bluebell.

A pond within the woodland is 90% shaded by trees and scrub. Floating sweet grass (Glyceria fluitans) is dominant within the pond and remote sedge (Carex remota) and mosses are found on the edges of the pond.

The woodland community is W10c Quercus robur-Pteridium aquilinum-Rubus fruticosus woodland, Hedera helix sub-community (with a MATCH coefficient of similarity of 57%), a subcommunity typical of unmanaged woodland, and widespread in the British lowlands.

Valuation

Little Poors Wood was not identified as ancient woodland in the main ES. The woodland habitat was valued at district/borough level.

As a result of additional cultural heritage baseline information Little Poors Wood was identified as ancient woodland within the SES (Part 1 of the SES and AP2 ES) although the value of the woodland did not change.

Measures taken to avoid or reduce impacts

There were no specific measures taken to avoid or reduce the loss of ancient woodland at Little Poors Wood. To avoid impacting local residents in the Burton Green area, the Greenway was used for the alignment of the route. As such, the route of the railway is constrained in this location and it was not possible to implement measures to avoid or reduce impacts to Little Poors Wood.

Impacts and associated effects

The scheme will result in the loss of a strip of land from Little Poors Wood that is required for the Burton Green Tunnel (approximately 0.2ha) (see Figure EC-AWS-015). This is expected to result in an adverse effect on the conservation status of the ancient woodland at Little Poors Wood that is significant at a district/borough level.

Translocation of ancient woodland soils

Given that a very small area of the poor quality woodland edge at Little Poors Wood will be lost, translocation of soils will be inappropriate, and is not proposed.

Woodland planting

No woodland planting is proposed in response to the losses of ancient woodland at Little Poors.

Enhancement of ancient woodland

The SES3 and AP4 ES introduced a number of changes to woodland compensation proposals in CFA18 (SES3 and AP4 ES Volume 5 AP4-018-004). Under the AP4 revised scheme 11ha of Black Waste Wood was included within the land required for management and enhancement of the woodland habitat to address the additional loss of ancient woodland in CFA18 (see Figure EC-AWS-015).

Mitigation to offset the loss of this woodland involves the management and enhancement of 8.3ha of Black Waste Wood. This measure is provided as compensation for losses to several areas of woodlands in CFA18 that have been added to the ancient woodland inventory since the main ES (including Little Poors). This will include measures such as the removal of invasive plant species, for example rhododendron, and management of deadwood habitat and trees for the benefit of wildlife, particularly invertebrates and bats (see Figure EC-AWS-015)).

Enhancement of non-ancient woodland

No enhancement of non-ancient woodland is required as compensation for works at Black Waste Wood.