of the meeting called by Save Leather Lane Oaks Campaign,
Gt Missenden 24-Jan-2022


Jim Conboy provided historical context to the current situation regarding Leather Lane
The main concern with current proposals for the re-siting of Leather Lane and the overbridge is that the proposed bridge (not built on the existing line of the road) is on the wrong side, to the south  of the existing road.

The new road would cut twice through the line of oak trees on the south side of Leather Lane. HS2’s original justification for their proposals when challenged in the community forums was that it was designed to avoid a copse on the north side of the current lane.

However, the copse identified by HS2 is not in fact a copse; it's an old chalk pit with a few scraggly trees in it. The Campaign have subsequently challenged the HS2 Environmental Statement, stating again that the proposal was on the wrong side of the Lane.

Unfortunately the HS2 proposal was unaltered through the Hybrid Bill Select Committee.  The focus of local campaigners at that time was seeking to get agreement to extend the tunnel as far as Wendover. There was a lack of emphasis on the environmental impact if the tunnel didn't extend to Wendover.

The present campaign really began when Carol-Ann went looking for bats and found substantial numbers of them flying up and down among the oak trees on Leather Lane.

Carol-Anne O'Callaghan

Welcomed all attendees in person and on zoom.

No background in campaigning but a former deputy head teacher who worked as a troubleshooter for Essex County Council, working in schools that were in special measures. Having always taught children to stand up for what they believe in, and if they see something unfair or unjust, they should not be intimidated, they should just speak up. They shouldn't stand by and just watch things happen. They should be the voice for someone who is more vulnerable than them or someone who is less able to speak up for themselves than them.

For Carol-Anne, this campaign is giving the trees, the bats and the wildlife that use Leather Lane a voice.

When Carol-Anne discovered that EKFB had planned to fell potentially ALL of the mature oaks in Leather Lane, (99 trees plus 'Ilona', the Lone Oak), under the guise of 'vegetation' she couldn't understand the justification for destroying so many trees.

She started questioning HS2 and began to receive snippets of information:

“‘I remember one explanation for the lights was 'to keep our furry friends  away'.  I didn't have a clue what they meant at the time. And of course, I do now, and I couldn't understand the  justification for constructing the realignment of the lane on the southern side, where all the biodiversity was ..... when I was looking at an empty field on the north side. And my question that I couldn't understand further down the line of the campaign was why the road had to be so wide that they were putting in, which is why they were taking so many trees.

I question that. And with other people joining the campaign, we discovered so much had happened very early on, and  Jim alluded to that. I discovered that HS2 had not identified Leather Lane as a vital bat foraging corridor for the  Barbastelle bat, in the preliminary stages.

In fact, when we asked for their BAT survey through the Freedom of Information requests, what they sent back was  my own survey that I had sent to them. So every day we uncover more and more reasons why there is no justification to fell Leather Lane Oaks without at least seriously considering another option the alternative design option that our engineer will shortly have completed but that will be presented  to you tonight. HS2 and EKFB have committed to engage with us and consider our design options. They don't have  to, but they have agreed that they will do that and they've committed to that.

But getting them to actually do that is why we are tonight calling on them to guarantee that they will, as they promised, engage in this process with integrity. And we implore Buckinghamshire Council to hold them to account to ensure  they follow the environmental statement and all applicable environmental laws and policies.

And in light of what you're going to hear tonight and the evidence that's put forward to you, we insist that they follow the  mitigation hierarchy principle and that is adhered to and that Bucks council ensure that they stick to that mitigation hierarchy.

I've been overwhelmed recently by the support from local residents when I went canvassing and explaining exactly  what I just said to you, really. And we have over 300 people and more as we speak, signing our local petition.”

Many local people have been in touch with many wonderful stories and memories of Leather Lane. They have also sent a lot of  support for 'Ilona' the Lone Oak who is under threat of being felled by EKFB, not because she stands in the way of the haul road or the train track, but she is destined to be felled for landscaping because the landscaping designs require that the 'bund' ( the sloping earth that goes up outside the track) has to be at a consistent height, and also because if she remains there, she will be taking up space required for landscaping, i.e. where EKFB and HS2 want to plant saplings.

To Carol-Anne, that is not a justified reason. Carol-Anne thanked all the local residents who have supported the campaign and who continue to do so. The campaign has 43,000 supporters nationally.

Just because an alternative option may be a little bit more challenging to achieve, it doesn't mean that you shouldn't do it.

Jim Conboy introduced Lindsey Spinks, Advisor to the Campaign from Lawyers for Nature

Lindsey grew up locally and having worked overseas for many years with tribes and indigenous people in Ecuador and Colombia who are facing threats to their land, she is motivated to do what she can to support the Campaign against HS2.

Since COP26 there has been an increased acceptance of the reality of climate change.

The more research we've done into the proposed mitigation of the harm caused by HS2 the more we find evidence that the proposed solutions do not constitute mitigation of the harm done. It's only compensation on the 'mitigation hierarchy' that applies to all construction projects. The first hurdle, the first point that any one undertaking a construction project is to look at is avoidance of harm.

Can I avoid harm and protect biodiversity?

And we believe if our proposed alternative plan is viable, then that would avoid any further fragmentation of the bat corridor. And it's not just about bat corridors, as Jack will explain to you. It's an ecosystem that's maintained as a habitat for so many, so many species.

Over 2000 species can live on just one oak tree.

If we let the Government carry  on with its planning policies with HS2, what will be left for our children and grandchildren?

Because this is the legacy we're leaving, we have a choice right now. Do we stand up like Carol-Anne has said, and  actually speak up when we see injustice, speak up for our children, grandchildren? Also for our grandparents who fought for our freedoms here.

We can talk about the legalities and so on, but it's really understanding this  fundamental point of what's really important here, and it's not about saving costs. At some point we  need to realise we can't eat money because we need the Earth for our food and we need air to breathe.

I first met Carol-Anne last March, when EKFB, being HS2's subcontractors, were due to fell the entire row of 99 veteran oak trees and at that time I was working on a team for Jones' Hill Wood, which was the case that we  took to the High Court.

Yet again, at Jones' Hill Wood HS2 had not carried out adequate surveys. And it's because of people on the ground living at Jones' Hill Wood camp,  that Barbastelle bats were found. Had it not been for these committed people, giving their time for free no one would have known about this. And Carol-Anne going out day after day with bat readers to record what's going on on Leather Lane. And I'd never heard of a Barbastelle Bat, it's been a huge learning curve.

So I was already very involved in the Jones' Hill Wood case, and they had a really good set up with people on the ground who were checking for bats, we had a team of ecologists and Richard Buxton Solicitors who took the case to  the High Court, and that's when we became aware of the threat to Leather Lane.

So at this time, we did a Freedom of  Information request and it appeared there was no survey information.  EKFB had taken down three trees by that point. In February 2021,  we sent an ecologist to check for potential bat roosts on Leather Lane and tree 231 (next in line for felling) was the tree (and the ecologists have checked) that had roosting features, and I alerted HS2 back in February about this. At that point, Lisa Foster from Richard Buxton solicitors pressed the go button and threatened legal action because they [EKFB] were due to fell the entire row of oak trees without surveys.

And they did. They stopped felling. And in that time, it's created some space for residents like Carol-Anne who has done amazingly to step into the breach and become the eyes and ears and the voice for these bats.

During that time, we've engaged ecologists and we've got to know John Altringham, the top bat expert in the UK who actually advised HS2 on bat corridors over at Bernwood Forest, Cheaphouse Wood, where they have Bechstein bats. We've had Sam Watson, who's about to speak to you, produce reports for us to show how active the bat corridor is and the existence of Barbastelle bats. The Barbastelle is an endangered species with an estimated population of just 5000 left in the whole of the UK.  The populations are so small that any impact on the habitat can have huge consequences, which Sam will explain. As a result of this work, we've been able to compile a report that some of you may have seen. We have a Google Document page, 32 page report which you're very welcome to read. It's in the public domain and shows many failings by HS2 and EKFB. At the time the HS2 bill was going through Parliament, HS2 committed to  completing their surveys along the line. And that hasn't happened. Leather Lane, Jones Hill Wood, Grimm’s Ditch, and so many places in our area have been caught up in that because of the lack of surveys, Leather Lane was not identified as a bat corridor and  adequate measures were not put in place to protect the bats.

We strongly believe that had the corridor been identified at the time the bill was passed, that the first point of avoidance of harm would have been applied which may have resulted in the design of the new road on the northern side or perhaps even taking the lane right down to the A413. We believe that Parliament may have been misled. We may need to go back to Parliament  because new information has come to light. I definitely think that HS2 and EKFB need to reconsider the mitigation hierarchy, and if it's possible to avoid damage and further fragmentation to the bat corridor, then they absolutely are bound to do that.

Carol-Anne O'Callaghan added that had the adequate surveys been done, HS2 and EKFB would have had to commit to an alternative route, and that would have been either the north side, or it would have been where Leather Lane comes in straight down to the A413.

A member of the audience challenged why the Campaign had not protested against the removal of trees and bat corridor on Liberty Lane.

The Campaign is constrained by the availability of people on the ground to monitor the situation.
A member of the audience asked if it was possible to quantify how many bats are using Leather Lane.Carol-Anne responded that Sam Watson will present to about the number of bats and explain how important the little colony in South Bucks is.


Jack Taylor - Woodland Trust

Jack Taylor introduced himself as the lead campaigner for woodland threat at the Woodland Trust.

Jack explained the importance of veteran trees to the natural environment, to humans and as a microhabitat themselves - to rare species and fungi. One single tree constitutes an ecosystem in its own right supporting different species; bats, bird and insects.

When one species is lost that has a knock on effect on other species and puts them under pressure.

As well as trees having a vital role as a habitat, they are also vital for carbon sequestration and also as flood defences.

Recent studies have shown that in response to increased levels of CO2 in the  atmosphere, trees actually increase their rates of photosynthesis, especially those that are exposed to sunlight.

Trees also have social and cultural significance.

They are irreplaceable. Any type of compensation is simply not enough. We need HS2 to focus on and do what's right in this case, which is to find alternative solutions to enable us to keep these trees.

A question from the audience - is it possible to quantify the downstream flood risk caused by the removal of the Leather Lane Oaks?

Jack responded that there are organizations and companies that can estimate the impact of the removal of trees on flood risk and other areas. Jack was to pass details to the meeting organisers.

Carol-Anne O'Callaghan asked if there was a way of calculating a monetary value for  each tree as well.

Jack responded that there are a few different methods for doing so. However he cautioned that really trees such as those on Leather Lane are irreplaceable and priceless and no monetary value can accurately be placed upon them.

Sam Watson

Sam Watson spoke about the bat population on Leather Lane.
The audience was shown a picture of the Barbastelle bat. The Barbastelle is very rare. The figure of 5000 has been mentioned in terms of the population in Britain, but in fact they are so rare that it's actually very difficult to get an accurate population measure
Sam introduced himself as a professional ecologist. “I've nearly 19 years at a company called Bioscan, and I've had a lot of experience surveying for bats over that time.

Carol-Anne and got in touch and asked if I wanted to help with some of the bat surveys on Leather Lane. Carol-Anne diligently went out and collected the data which I analyzed. I've produced various reports that analyse that data, and I'm sure those can be made available to anybody if they want them. But it's worth just running through what we found last year.

Sam shared his report showing the bat populations identified each night during the survey. The take away point from this is the consistent level of activity that the detector picked up. We've consistently got what I would say is a high level of activity recorded by the detector.

Interestingly we also considered the impact on bat activity where the trees have been removed. The data is stark, quite frankly, showing a dramatic reduction in bat activity. It's obvious that where there are no trees there are no bats. They just don't like areas without trees. And so that's in a nutshell the effect that HS2 has already had on the lane where the trees have already been removed.

Let me take a step back, to explain the  importance of Leather Lane to bats and why we are getting consistently high levels of bat activity. Bats like to follow linear features and the trees and hedgerow along what is the southern edge of Leather Lane form a nice feature west to east. A feature that they can fly along between roosts and commuting areas and feeding grounds. And the other thing that is quite particular about Leather Lane is that it's in a hollow. The road is actually below the level of the surrounding land. Which means that it is sheltered from the wind and the rain. And that combination of mature trees and a sort of a dipped lane is what makes Leather Lane so special, and that is why we've got the level of bat activity that we have. And that's what needs to be protected.  It's its function within the landscape as a bat corridor that will be lost if HS2 remove more or less, all the trees along that lane


Against that backdrop, it is important to understand the mitigation hierarchy and the National Planning Policy Framework, the NPPF, which is the government's stated policy for assessing projects and their impact on heritage, the environment and biodiversity, states that your goal should be to avoid the impacts of the project. Is there a way of achieving HS2 to pass Leather Lane or  through Leather Lane, that retains or would retain the integrity of the bat corridor function? That has to be the first  goal.

After that, if you can't do that, you then come to mitigation. Is there any way of lessening the impacts? In fact, things like that would be where HS2 needs an embankment, leading up or down to the track. Can that be narrowed to reduce the amount of the trees on Leather Lane that have to be taken out and things like that?

And then lastly, and it has to be very much a last resort if avoidance or mitigation cannot be achieved, the contractor is required to compensate. Can we do something else, somewhere else in the landscape that would recreate the  function that has been lost? And it's worth saying at the moment that all of the options that HS2 are pursuing rely on that last resort compensation strategy and all of the options that I've seen for the rerouting of Leather Lane over the track to the south of the lane, result in more or less all of the trees being removed and effectively the track diverted over the HS2 track south of where it is at the moment.

That is not the correct approach. HS2 should be looking at options that first seek to  avoid the impact and then mitigate the impact. As a group we should be pushing for HS2 to look at this again and say, hang on a minute, all of your options rely on compensation. Well, that's  not good enough and you need to be looking at avoiding and if they can't do that mitigating and only coming to  compensation as an absolute last resort.

Question from Carol-Anne - Could you explain, please, about the local population of Barbastelle and how important it is to South Bucks?

Sam responded that looking at the data there was a night which showed 15 calls by Barbastelle. In Sam’s experience, you might get one or two Barbastelle using Leather Lane are a small local population, possibly the only population in South Bucks.
Therefore the loss of the Lane could be catastrophic for the local population.

Carol-Anne asked Sam to explain the cumulative effect of the loss of one breeding season  locally and then nationally?

Sam explained that whilst animals are used to adapting to changes to the landscape as they happen over time, the issue with large scale projects is that the impact happens in relative terms instantly. If Leather Lane lost trees because they fell during storms that blew them over say, five or  ten years, they probably would be able to adapt to it. But the fact is that the Lane and the trees would be gone almost overnight.
That doesn't give nature and time to adapt. And again, that comes back to my point: a sudden impact can be catastrophic to a local population, particularly when you've got a population potentially as small as we've got here now. Leather Lane represents a unique east-west corridor in a North-South distance of about seven kilometres. This would mean that the bats would have to fly a minimum of an extra seven kilometres to try and find an alternative route. And that requires extra energy, and it might mean that they haven't physically got time to get to the feeding areas and back to roost, particularly in the height of summer, when the nights are very short. So again, it just  highlights the importance of the function of the lane to bats in the local area.

At a national level, or certainly across the length of phase one of HS2, if this is happening to all lanes and the hedgerows and the bat corridors, HS2 is going to be effectively a complete barrier, cutting a line right through the middle between London and Birmingham, across which bats won't be able to go anymore.

I have suggested in my reports it needs something like a Green Bridge to replace the functionality of the Lane. But even if  that happens here, for example, the cumulative effect of the loss of all these corridors just drives a massive wedge between the west and east side of England, between Birmingham and London.

Alan Brackley (Engineer, JNP group)

Alan Brackley presented an alternative to HS2’s design which shows that in principle, the road could be constructed to the north of the existing line and the line of trees.

Jim Conboy noted that it is possible to put the lane on the north side and that if you do so, the lane crosses the track at right angles, which is significantly cheaper than the diagonal version being  proposed by HS2.

It was noted that the current HS2 proposal envisions a two lane road with a 60mph speed limit. The Campaign sees no reason for a widening of the lane given the existing lane is single track and whilst subject to the national speed limit of 60mph the nature of the current lane does not permit such speeds.

Bucks County Council could, in principle, put a speed limit on the lane in which case the design of the overbridge would not be that required to accommodate traffic at 60mph.

Question  from the audience - I can't really understand why they need to cut down so many of the trees, even with their own design.

Carol-Anne explained that it was to do with the road width and the amount of gradient required.

Lindsey Spinks explained that since the campaign started last March there has been engagement with parish councillors and Bucks County councillors who have been on board and very supportive.

Lindsey Spinks explained that the HS2 design was being revisited to seek to reduce the felling of trees.

A question was asked about what would happen to the dead end of the Lane. Carol‑Anne responded that it was something which Parish Council and the Bucks council will be addressing but hopefully it would be returned to nature.

Jane McBean - Bucks County Council

I spend a lot of time challenging HS2 and the contractors, but I do have to give them some credit on this, they have  listened to the community and the south side design. They do now have five or six options that they are evaluating  and they have done a lot of work to try to reduce the number of trees that will need to be taken out if this option were to go ahead. They've done a lot of work at the top end of the lane.  We still feel there's a lot of work to be done at the bottom end of the lane, and they have recognized that.

So I think it's important to acknowledge that we have had very productive conversations and they are still trying to make efforts to reduce those impacts.

As a councillor, you become immersed in all kinds of things  that you would never think you'd learn about and you just touch the periphery of them. Now I actually wrote to our  head of highways and said, this is a lane I have driven up and down for years and it is not a lane you can approach the national speed limit on, but I am told by our highways team that it is a national speed designation. However, the design can be done under an exception rule so that actually it does not have to conform to very rigid criteria for 60 mile per hour roads which gives more flexibility on the design.

We have to have a degree of common sense about this so that it can be looked at in the context of the surroundings and the environment and the impact and the speed at which people will practically travel up and down the lane. So we will have those conversations with the contractors and our highways team and we will look carefully at the planning application that comes in under Schedule 17.

But we will keep asking questions. I mean, what will happen to the old Holloway itself, that's a very good question. And I don't  know the answer. I don't know what will happen. I don't know if this goes to whichever design goes ahead. If there's scope to actually remove concrete and tarmac and to actually try to neutralize it and put any further mitigation to try and create a more natural habitat. But that's certainly the next stage of the conversation. Now that we're progressing with the different options, I think we do need to start talking about what will happen to  Leather Lane if and when this new design is agreed upon.

Question from the floor -  I was just going to ask, what can we do as local residents to support you? Short of putting leaflets through doors and signing up to Facebook groups, what can we do as a community to try and  put pressure on the powers that be to listen to us and listen to local people who don't want mature trees cut down,  who want their children to grow up seeing these trees, rather than the barren landscape that is being produced at the moment locally?

Carol-Anne - Well, I think coming to this tonight and hopefully the people  that have joined us on Zoom, I think it's a matter of the next step. I'm going to be taking the local petition so you can share that with people that you know who might not have signed up to it. There are some paper copies that you can find here tonight. You can encourage people to get in touch with us as a campaign, and I think it's talking to local Councillors and to local parish councillors and saying,  Look, we really need you to take our voice and speak for us as residents. And I think that has happened, and I believe that the local people spoke up and said, You've got to listen to us. So that is very, very important. You know, that is the thing. You do have a voice to get this heard. I think the point is that there is an alternative option that needs looking at. To avoid these trees being taken and this is what  we need to cry out and say, please stop looking at the south side just for a minute and look at the north side, engage with Allen, which they have committed  to do. And this week, finally, after seven months, they have actually been in contact with Alan. Their  engineer has contacted Alan personally. A meeting will happen in the next couple of weeks. The design will then be finished because we'll get the information that we've been asking for seven months. I would say write to HS2 yourselves and tell them that you've been to this meeting and  you feel strongly about it. Get in touch with your local parish council. Get in touch with us and talk to us and see if there's anything else we can do. And also crowdfunding, because this expertise is expensive and getting a civil engineer to produce a design  that is feasible and is viable costs money. We're very, very transparent. We will be printing all our accounts. And that's what we need to do. And I think the other  point to mention is that there is a mitigation hierarchy which we will be ensuring is adhered to. And that could also be a very expensive process.

Jim Conboy

Just a point to make really that had all the people who are leading the  campaign in this room not spoken,. those trees would to be gone by now.

Alan Brackley -Engineer

I've lived around here all my life, so I'm partly emotionally involved in the whole thing as well. To give you some  background, when I came to look at our option, we had some data, but not enough to totally firm it up. But I'm pretty confident in it now because I've designed this to a much lower speed, typically 20-30 miles an hour,  which I think you probably agree is typical for people going up and down the lane. This allows us to be able to get the bridge perpendicular to the alignment of HS2, and as I think you've heard before, that makes a tremendous difference to the cost to HS2. They have had a look at my preliminary design and they may have conceded it's cheaper as one of the positives, so it could be a win-win.

What we've tried to set out to do is try and avoid any contact with the line of oak trees to the south of Leather Lane.  That's why it sweeps away. I mean, we don't affect these trees here, and I think looking at this, neither does HS2, but these will be wiped out and some more further down the line.

A question was asked about access using the revised option being presented by the Campaign. Alan Buckley explained that if the design gets finalized,  a piece of software called AutoTrack would make sure that farm vehicles and so on can navigate the lane without problem. This would also allow access to the electricity substation required by HS2 by maintenance trucks.

Alan explained that access is a problem that he has come across when working on wind farms because he has to get tremendously large and long vehicles into remote locations.

So what we do is we use an eco friendly, hard standing to give the extra turning room required. So for instance, if the issue was to allow access to the vehicle that HS2 wanted to use to bring in the transformer, we would simply put an overrun area on the inside of the bend made of eco concrete or something like that, which is concrete, perforated concrete the grass grows up through.  It would have a deterrent effect to stop normal cars. White van man, whatever going up onto it. But that's how we get  around the temporary access once in a blue moon.  But as I say, we will be all tracking it. And I don't know what vehicles they're going to be using, but hopefully if we get anything out of them, maybe in another six or seven months, they will be able to tell us what the vehicle is like.

Jim Conboy - Alan, could you clarify another point about those large vehicles coming in from the top of the lane line, I think rather constricted by Potters Row?

Alan Brackley
Potters Row has actually got better access than Leather Lane and is not as narrow  and that's the less convoluted route. The alternative is to come in via  Lee Common, which probably wouldn't be as good.

Ken Mitchell

So I'm not an expert on trees by any stretch of the imagination. However, I have worked in and done a lot of work for the local environment.

The majestic trees on Leather Lane are all pre Grey squirrel. The Grey Squirrel is having a dramatic effect on our broad leaf trees. So the big, majestic trees that you see on Leather Lane are irreplaceable for a couple of reasons. One is that any new ones planted will be found and destroyed by the Grey squirrel. And secondly, if they're planting  big plantations of new trees, trees do one thing. When there's no light, they just go straight up. They don’t  spread out like those on Leather Lane. So when you look at a picture of a big majestic tree, that's because it's got space to grow. And if you put in 10,000 trees in one field, then all the trees just grow straight up. And if you look in the woodlands, all the oaks don't have any branches on them at all.

And that's what they do. So you won't get these big, majestic trees. That's a fact. So  the government wants to put in 7000 hectares of new trees by 2024. And the landowners have said, what's the point  because they'll all be destroyed?

So it's all very well for HS2 to say yes, we're going to put in X amount of trees. If you don't manage it, you don't protect them, not one of them will be around in 40 years time. They'll be gone. So it's a false promise.

Mark Keir 

What was euphemistically called mitigation.

I have written a report which HS2 has looked at, and they've responded to my report, and I have to say that the response is almost as bad as the mitigation.

And the so-called mitigation at Jones Hill is not mitigation. It is compensation. It is at the bottom of the list. You should not be doing compensation until you look at mitigation first or no damage.

At Jones Hill they were felling trees at the wrong time of year. They could have done it just a few months later in the winter but they said they had to do it in April because they had to get their haul road in so urgently. They could have done it six months later and done it in a much more eco friendly way. Still pretty dismal, but they could have done it a lot more correctly and they could have looked after the soil. They  could have looked after the plants that they were transplanting. All the plants that they  transplanted from Jones Hill are dead.

All the hedges that they transplanted are dead. At least 30% of the saplings being planted are dead. They're pot grown from a nursery and are about 7ft tall, and over half of them are dead, and they are all tied to stakes at an angle and tied in such a loose fashion that the trees are just going to be rocking around and actually damaging themselves on the stake.

The plants that they moved from Jones Hill will be dead because they moved them at the wrong time of year. The whole thing is just such an absolute mess. And there's nothing of the mitigation they promised.

And this is not just Jones Hill, this is up and down the line. And in fact, it's not even just HS2. It is the whole construction industry. Natural England are doing nothing. They are giving them license to do this sort of work.

Everywhere we look, there is no mitigation. There is no saving for nature. People were asking about what can we do? Well, there's been a very small, committed army of people, a very small army of people who have been working really really hard and labouring. So what we really need is a lot of hard work here because every single case is just a microcosm of what's happening across the whole line.

This is not unusual. This is everywhere along the line. You can go ten metres down the line and you will come across exactly the same issue.

Carol-Anne O'Callaghan

Well, that's what that man said earlier about. You know, I couldn't be everywhere.


Actually, coming back to one of the points that he made. He has a problem with the road going over a bridge and saying that we're going the wrong way. We can't do that because it's actually flooding his  farm, which is down at the bottom of the hill.

But actually, the HS2 route does exactly the same. So it's not a question of what we've done. The railway is not being mitigated for or there's no mitigation for his farm at the bottom of the hill by HS2.
And in fact, trees are more likely to retain water.

Trees will actually do a lot more to help them than anything else we could do. So yeah. That's basically it.  Look after yourself and look after your planet.


A really, really horrible statistic for you: Ethiopia has 147 trees per person. England has 47. OK. We have really decimated our country. We've got to stop doing it. Thank you.

Jim Conboy

Well, thank you all very much for coming along. I hope you've learned what it's all about, what we're  trying to do.

Lindsey Spinks - summing up

A lot of people we've spoken to have been involved in this process for ten years now, and I think there's a feeling of exhaustion.

But it just shows that someone like Carol-Anne, who's never been an activist in her life, started a campaign as someone who has spoken out when something isn't right.
And, you know, Blaize started the petition and attracted the support of 43,000 people to understand what we're doing. Imagine that's just one of the things that the campaign has achieved.

What we want is for HS2 to consider our alternative proposal. It is crucial to protect the few remaining trees as we are losing biodiversity at such a rate in this country.

So we  need more people, we need funds, we need help in this campaign, people to help with creative things, with technical settings and ideas on the ground, like Mark said. I think one of the reasons the Jones Hill case got as far as it did, wasn't just because we had a hotshot lawyer. It's because right at the very beginning, people who care about the environment stood up and they were in the trees and they were in Jones Hill Wood and they were speaking because who else would speak for the trees?

We just need to build this group, and I think everyone might have a role to play. And in  terms of people with concerns in other areas, I think we've created a template now. We've understood the issues. I've had to do a huge amount of  research to understand how to move forward, and I think the engagement is key.  And so rather than, you know, seeing people as different or separate we need everyone working together because  we all need trees, we all need our biodiversity. So engaging with other locals or groups like the Chiltern Society, Chiltern Conservation Board, Bucks councillors, Parish Councillors.  

At the end of the day, we pay taxes. HS2 is a government project. The Parish Council and Bucks Council are the voice of the people they represent. The Hillingdon case confirmed that and because what will happen after we get through the process with EKFB is that they will submit the planning application to Bucks County Council and under the terms of Schedule 17, they need to bear all of this in mind so they provide the accountability to HS2, but they are all accountable to everyone in this room too.

Jim Conboy

Thank you all for coming. Just a word to the wise, before you leave, make sure your lights are working and drive very carefully, as TVP toured the car park earlier this evening.