Despite efforts to mitigate biodiversity loss, planning has destroyed parts of ancient woodlands and damage will continue despite reprieve

The scrapping of HS2 from Birmingham to Manchester may save 32 ancient woodlands from destruction and reprieve miles of waterways and hedgerows – but the railway’s negative environmental impact may actually intensify with Rishi Sunak’s decision.

The carbon emissions reduction case for HS2 was never favourable – it will be a net contributor to emissions over its 120-year lifespan, according to its own data – but cancelling the new line north of Birmingham weakens the hope that a national high-speed rail network will cut flights between major cities.

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