Objectors to HS2 have welcomed the decision for works to be stopped at ancient woodland in Cubbington while the review into the high-speed rail project takes place.
But they have also expressed concerns that HS2 contractors could be asked to press on with the work if the company argues that it is necessary for it to continue.
On Monday Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps ordered that removals of ancient woodlands for HS2 be stopped during the independent review into the project - unless they are shown to be absolutely necessary to avoid major cost and schedule impacts, should the scheme proceed as planned.
Cubbington Action Group Against HS2 chairman Peter Delow said: “It’s news which I welcome and we all do.
“But there is a sting in the tail where they are saying that if they think they need to do the work they will which seems like a ‘get out of jail free card’.
“There needs to be a proper regime in place for them to go to over this but that doesn’t seem to have been thought about or mentioned.
“But if there is a change of policy at the end of the year, and it looks like there will be, it could mean that the wood has not been destroyed unnecessarily which, not to overstate, would have been an environmental crime.”
Mr Delow has thanked Kenilworth and Southam MP Jeremy Wright for his efforts to have the decision made on the works (see page 35) and for the work done by various environmental charities in also pushing for this.
Woodland Trust ecologist Luci Ryan said: “This is a welcome step in the right direction for our ancient woodlands, but unfortunately these woods remain threatened as HS2 can still decide for themselves whether works continue or not.
“Until the outcome of the review all ancient woodlands should be off limits full stop. Our welcome is therefore cautious.
“We thank all our supporters who have joined us in putting so much pressure on Government to affect this change of heart.
The fact the Secretary of State recognises that clearing irreplaceable ancient woodland is irreversible is a huge step in the right direction.
We hope HS2 Ltd use this time to consider engineering solutions that could save these irreplaceable habitats.”
At least 108 ancient woods will be affected by HS2 as a whole.
There will be direct loss to at least 63 ancient woods totalling 57.99 hectares and damage due to noise, vibration, changes to lighting and dust to a further 47 woods.
Anti-HS2 campaigner Matt Bishop will lead a protest walk through South Cubbington Wood tomorrow morning (Saturday September 21).
Walkers can meet at the ancient pear tree off the footpath from Mill Lane at 11am.
Search for Walk The Line - Stop HS2 on Facebook for more information.