AN AREA of ancient woodland in Rotherham will one of four destroyed or damaged if HS2 goes ahead with its proposed high speed rail route through South Yorkshire, it has been claimed.
Conservation charity the Woodland Trust said Nicker Wood near Aston would be lost if the controversial route goes ahead.
Stables Wood in Barnburgh, Watchely Crag Wood in Hooton Pagnell and Howell Wood in Grimethorpe could be damaged by noise, dust and lighting because they will be close to the line, the trust said.
The woodland experts said the northern section of the HS2 route would impact on a minimum of 24 irreplaceable ancient woods.
HS2 boss admits failures over conflict of interest
The head of High Speed Two told MPs that he and his executives had done no checks and had not monitored a former HS2 chief of staff at the centre of a conflict of interest fiasco with its key contractor on the £55 billion London-Birmingham rail line.
Revelations that HS2 Ltd had been unaware that a former executive was playing a senior role at his subsequent employer CH2M — project manager of the first phase and named this year as the preferred bidder for the same job on the second phase of the controversial high-speed lines — have led to promises of new “intrusive” investigations of personnel involved in bids for the billions of pounds’ worth of contracts coming up for tender.
The choice of CH2M to run Phase 2 (it later withdrew) came despite Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, demanding that HS2 be “quadruply certain” that there was nothing inappropriate in the appointment because of past closeness between the bosses of HS2 and CH2M.
At the Commons transport committee hearing into the affair and the withdrawal of CH2M from the £170 million contract, Sir David Higgins, HS2 chairman, said that it was standard practice in procurement to put the onus on bidders to declare conflicts of interest.
HS2 became aware of the conflict for Chris Reynolds, a former chief of staff to Alison Munro, HS2 chief executive, between 2011 and 2013, only after a whistleblower had reported his role at CH2M to Mace, the losing bidder. A furious Mace reported that to HS2 and threatened to take the issue to the High Court.
Sir David told MPs that Mr Reynolds had worked for HS2 between 2011 and 2016, much of it while on secondment from CH2M; that he had worked on a “lessons learnt” report on Phase 1 and between last April and June on the organisational design of Phase 2; that he had rejoined CH2M last September; and that he had been involved in four days of meetings concerning the bid for Phase 2.
“He shouldn’t have been anywhere near the meetings. He shouldn’t have been involved,” Sir David said.
The HS2 chairman and Mr Grayling indicated that CH2M would have been sacked from the contract if it had not withdrawn.