Campaign Statement


Campaign Meeting

The Campaign to Save Leather Lane Oaks (“the Campaign”) called a public meeting for residents on Monday 24th January, to share more about the campaign and to answer questions.  A big thank you to all who joined us in person and online.
HS2’s subcontractors (EKFB) are due to submit their Schedule 17 application for the Leather Lane overbridge in February and the campaign felt it was important to put their campaign proposal forward for residents to understand more fully and show their support or concerns.
Campaign founder and local resident Carol-Anne spoke about how she became involved in March 2021 when EKFB were due to fell the entire row of 99 veteran oak trees on the southern side of Leather Lane without surveys.  Together with her daughter Blaize, they started a petition which gained over 42,700 signatures.
This, combined with legal intervention from Richard Buxtons Solicitors and local Parish Councillors stopped the felling after 3 trees were lost for the haul road. 

Our Key Arguments

1.  HS2 did not conduct adequate surveys and did not therefore identify Leather Lane as a crucial bat corridor to 7 species of bat including the endangered Barbastelle bat;  
HS2 have already severed ecological connectivity throughout this area, and plan even more, increasing Leather Lane's importance.
2.  Now they have been made aware of this (due to the hard work of campaigners and their ecologists) they must adhere to their legal responsibilities and established principles to apply the Mitigation Hierarchy;
3.   The Mitigation Hierarchy requires HS2 to AVOID harm where possible – by adopting the campaign's design to build the bridge on the North side, further damage to the vital corridor can be avoided.

Presentations were made by Lindsey Spinks, a local campaigner from Lawyers for Nature, Jack Taylor, Campaigner for Woodland under threat at the Woodland Trust and ecologist Sam Watson who has been instructed as an expert in the campaign.
Jack Taylor talked about the key role veteran Oak trees play by creating irreplaceable habitat and their role in carbon sequestration, water capture and air quality.
Sam Watson shared the findings of the recordings made by an Anabat reader placed over several months at Leather Lane. Results showed high levels of bat recordings and of particular interest was the consistent activity of the endangered Barbastelle bat.  Sam explained how the felling of 9 trees at the Track Trace had impacted numbers of bat flights which underlines the need to protect the remaining corridor where some 40 -50  trees are under threat at the bottom as well as top of the Lane.
Consultant Civil Engineer Alan Brackley presented his design for the Leather Lane diversion to the North side and explained its practical and pragmatic qualities. He also believes that it is a cheaper option than EKFB's latest design.

Our design (red), and the existing lane (green)

Local residents spoke about the reality of HS2 mitigation on the ground, which is, in fact, only point 3 of the Mitigation Hierarchy and only amounts to poorly executed Compensation.
Veteran campaigner Mark Keir referred to mass failings at the Bowood site, with no one taking responsibility for the site's maintenance.  Local man and gamekeeper Ken Mitchell-Gears explained that all mature oaks were planted before the introduction of the grey squirrel; any saplings planted now will never reach maturity as they are continually “ringed” and killed by the squirrels.
Once the trees in Leather Lane are removed, it is unlikely we will see such majesty again.

We have the ongoing support of MP Sarah Green. Her caseworker Ben Willats joined the call to listen to our presentations as well as questions and answers.  Jane MacBean from Bucks Council was present along with Parish Councillors on Zoom and in person. 
Several hundred local residents have added their name to a letter addressed to HS2 and EKFB to reconsider design options for Leather Lane and apply the Mitigation Hierarchy as required to AVOID further harm where possible. 
We have the full support and input from the top experts on bats and mitigation in the UK; Bill Sutherland, John Altringham, and Anna Berthinussen, who has prepared a report for Leather Lane. 
We now urgently need people to support us with donations so we can fund the final leg of this campaign, in particular the cost of our Civil Engineers, which is crucial.  
We need at least another £20,000 to cover this final leg of the campaign, please support our Crowdfunder where you can:

We have achieved so much since we started and come so far - we need all the support we can get for this final push to save Leather Lane! 
The Campaign to Save Leather Lane Oaks ©