Trees are a home to wildlife. Ancient oak trees planted in the reign of George I, 300 years ago, are being cut down to make way for HS2. There are many examples but I’ve picked out a couple and I for one am distressed to see the photographs. I’m not the only one. I guarantee that there will be millions of people in the country who now believe that HS2 is already a failed project. It’s become way too expensive at over £100 billion when the initial quote was half that as I recall. The costs will probably end up even higher and so the government is cutting back on this grand project to the point where it becomes next to useless but a very expensive next to useless service at a time when the country is plunged into huge national debt because of the coronavirus pandemic due to a reckless and chaotic government. It all adds up to a catastrophe.
In The Times today there is a picture, which I can’t find on the Internet, of a 300-year-old lone oak tree cut down with a lady standing in the middle of the remains. The trunk, lying on its side lies stranded in a muddy field. The tree was sacrificed for the HS2 railway line. Locals campaigned for the tree to stay. They remonstrated in vain as workers with chainsaws destroyed it and the activists were evicted.
The Woodland Trust has warned that 108 ancient woods are at risk from HS2. They are campaigning for tunnels and route adjustments to minimise the destruction of ancient woodlands and individual trees. The first phase directly affects 32 ancient woods. There is huge depth of feeling against this project particularly as it becomes more expensive and less useful and financially viable, as mentioned.
I have a photograph of this cutdown tree (see above). You can see Kerry O’Grady on the stump of the tree utterly distraught at its destruction. She is mourning its loss. This tree was also 300 years old and was called the Huntingham Oak. Locals protested vehemently against its destruction. It stood beside a singletrack tarmac road. In August the protesters staged a walk to say goodbye to the tree and messages were read out. It’s like mourning the loss of a good friend it almost makes you tearful.
I sometimes feel that trees can feel the pain of what humans are doing to them. We should listen to the trees when we walk in woodlands. They heal and they calm the soul. We are becoming orphans to nature.