Campaign News

I realise that things have been quiet for a while and that we have been waiting for the engineering information required by our consultant in order to enable the completion of design Option 7.  This was finally delivered today, some 5 months after it was originally promised to us and only as a result of intervention.
There needs to be a collaborative and transparent process and we have done our best to bring everyone together in this way and we believe that it has had great outcomes.  If there is nothing to hide then there is no reason to separate parties involved in the process and hide information as EKFB and HS2 have been doing.
The quest to preserve Leather Lane is not just a local but global issue as we find ways to tackle climate change and prevent biodiversity loss.  Not only are trees key in their role of carbon capture, outputting of oxygen and flood prevention – the oaks of Leather Lane are also home to the endangered Barbastelle bat of which only 5,000 remain in the UK.  They have lost their habitats in surrounding areas such as Jones Hill wood and Leather Lane is an area where further felling is not necessary if the option we are presenting for the over bridge is viable. 
Buckinghamshire is committed to tackling climate change and improving air quality and passed a Motion on 15 July 2020 to work alongside national Government with the objective to achieve net carbon zero for Buckinghamshire as a whole by 2050.  Here is a real chance to contribute to that commitment.

Here are our updates for you:

1. We have received a written response from the Secretary of State to our MP Sarah Green, confirming that Leather Lane is, in fact, a vital bat corridor that is home to the endangered Barbastelle bat. 
This shows that HS2 had breached their duty of care by not carrying out adequate surveys at consultation stage and we are sure that, had the information we have provided been available at the time, there would have been a much stronger case to protect the Oak trees and bat corridor on the Southern side and to consult the public as well as relevant bodies in order to avoid felling and to provide mitigation which is completely absent. 
We need to move forward on this basis and be prepared to adapt and do whatever we can to reach this new duty of care that is now clearly before us.

2. We are in touch with our Ecologist Sam Watson as well as the UK’s top bat expert John Altringham who advises Natural England and has advised HS2 on the green corridor at Bernwood. He has seen through the Greenwash provided by HS2 and it is clear that they have not considered any mitigation at this stage.

3. We attach a recent report from our Ecologist Sam Watson that shows how much the fragmentation of the bat corridor due to the felling of the trees at the track trace has affected the bats which is fully supported by UK expert John Altringham.  It also shows the extremely high level of activity further down the lane where the trees are under threat from the current over bridge design.  This is despite the time of year - it is the end of season and still showed a high level of bat activity and the presence of the Barbastelle bat which is unusual at this time of year.

4.  John referred us to the BBC Countryfile programme which coincidentally aired on Sunday 5th December about Barbastelle bats and mitigation and is worthy of viewing to understand the threat to this species in the UK.  There are only 5,000 barbastelle bats left in the entire UK.  If we allow HS2 to fragment the corridor, it will have a seriously detrimental effect on the ability of bats to forage and reach their roosts.  There is no point in HS2 claiming mitigation through artificial bat roosts if they cannot reach them!

5. We have spent the past few weeks speaking to local residents to ensure that we do, in fact, have support for our Campaign to Save Leather Lane.  We have received 100% unanimous support from everyone we have spoken to.  We made it very clear to everyone that are still in the process of evaluating Option 7 with our Engineer and EKFB along with their options.
Both HS2 as well as Bucks Council have a duty of care to protect this and consider other options. 

 6.  We would appreciate feedback from Bucks Council on the speed limit deviation and believe it would be beneficial for Transport for Bucks to have a conversation with our Engineer prior to the meeting with EKFB so that we are clear on this point.  From my recollection, everyone at the last meeting was united on this point  - that 60mph is too fast for Leather Lane and poses serious safety issues, particularly because of the bend on Options 6 and 6a which have raised serious questions due to the lack of information available.

7.   We are also now working with the Woodland Trust who are fully supportive and have particularly shown support for the campaign to save the Lone Oak which is gathering attention.

8.  We are also in the process of engaging with Natural England and will update you on this point.

As you can see, it’s not over.  In fact there is a renewed energy in the campaign which has full support and we just need to get feedback to see what is possible regarding a design for the Northern side and a meeting with ALL parties present to complete the discussion we had back in October so that we can complete the process we have started and make an informed decision.

With thanks for all you have given to the campaign thus far and may it make a lasting impact for the Chilterns, our Wildlife and Children.

Best wishes 

Lindsey Spinks