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HS2 will wipe out all nearby barn owls, rail project company reveals

All breeding populations within a mile of the track will be wiped out, reveals HS2 Ltd in its hybrid bill

Barn owls living near HS2 will be doomed if the line is built, the project company admitted.

All breeding populations within a mile of the track will be wiped out, reveals HS2 Ltd in its hybrid bill.

The information – buried in a paragraph of the full environmental impact statement – was pointed out by an activist for the Uxbridge Gazette.

Brian Adams of the Ickenham Residents’ Association is one of many opponents of the rail system who are looking at the pages and pages of information contained in the Bill and its associated documents since their publication three years ago weeks.

The information is in the plethora of data that has “hardened” since the publication of the draft environmental statement in May.

In this document, there is no reference to barn owls.

However, “permanent adverse effects” on bat, bird and crested newts populations have been noted.

Uxbridge and South Ruislip MP Sir John Randall MP is an avid bird watcher who hopes to help with mitigation efforts further upstream.

He said he hoped this latest news of environmental damage would help stop HS2.

Readers should delve into the “Whole Road Effects” document that accompanies the environmental impact statement to find hope for the owls.

It states: “Barn Owls will be subject to significant adverse effects due to the loss of nesting sites and foraging habitat during construction.

“In addition, during operation there is a risk of mortality due to a train strike, which leads to other significant negative effects.

“Overall, as a precautionary measure, there may be a loss of up to 52 pairs of barn owls due to these combined effects, which equates to around one percent of the UK population.

“Over the entire route, these losses will result in a permanent residual negative effect, significant at the national level. “

The report suggests ways to help the owls, for example by persuading farmers in the area to set up birdhouses for them.

“The possibilities of providing barn owl nesting boxes in areas more than 1.5 km from the road will be explored with local landowners.

“The implementation of these measures would likely increase the number of barn owls in the wider landscape and thus offset the negative effect,” the report said.

Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust conservation officer Tim Hill told the Uxbridge Gazette: “A simple mitigation measure would be to plant tall hedges on either side of the path, along the path line. iron where barn owl territories have been identified.

“The birds fly above the trees and are high enough in the sky to avoid being struck by the train.

“If HS2 Ltd plans to encourage landowners to install artificial nesting boxes, they should be paired with suitable foraging habitat, otherwise barn owls will return to their previous territories to feed.”

HS2 Ltd declined to comment beyond highlighting possible mitigation measures.

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