HS2

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Bird on a Fire
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Re: HS2

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed Feb 10, 2021 6:01 pm

El Pollo Diablo wrote:
Wed Feb 10, 2021 4:39 pm
Other bird species also seem to ignore the railway disturbance. For example, more than 90% of bald eagle nests were built near human infrastructures, including railways that had more than 1,000 railcars going by each day (Mundahl et al. 2013).
Though that last sentence contrasts with an earlier one in the paper:
For example, noise emission from railway traffic has a negative effect on the density of all meadow birds in the Netherlands (Waterman et al. 2002). The threshold noise level from which densities were affected was around 42–49 dB(A) for the black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa), skylark (Alauda arvensis), and garganey (Anas querquedula) (Waterman et al. 2002). There was also evidence that successful bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) nests were farther away from highways and railways than unsuccessful ones (Mundahl et al. 2013).
Just on the Bald Eagle thing - it says that most nests were built near (<400 m) infrastructure (including the river shipping channel), but that successful nests (the ones where chicks fledged) tended to be further away from the noisier kinds of infrastructure. So there's not really a contradiction there - the birds might be ignoring the disturbance (or might not have much choice), but it still might be having an effect on them.

Although on a quick skim of the paper, they do compare eagle nests with random points and find nests generally closer to open water and wet woodland, and away from agriculture and developed land, so they actually might be trying to avoid some kinds of disturbance a bit, or might just be attracted to water and wet forest. It's quite tricky getting clear mechanistic answers from these kinds of observational studies. ;)
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Re: HS2

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed Feb 10, 2021 6:02 pm

One good thing is that the UK has really good monitoring data for birds, butterflies and some aquatic groups, so we will be able to compare before and after HS2 with appropriate controls.
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Re: HS2

Post by Sciolus » Wed Feb 10, 2021 6:44 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Wed Feb 10, 2021 3:21 pm
Noise above 55 dB is generally detrimental to wildlife populations. Looking at HS2's published contours it looks like 200m is a reasonable worst-case estimate of that.

You'd also need to include consideration other habitats in the area. If you leave the patch of designated ancient woodland alone, but sever the hedge/shelterbelt/whatever connecting it to another woodland, you've still damaged it.

AIUI those kinds of effects are very significant, but it won't show up in these kinds of naive "x m2 of designated habitats". It inaccurately minimises the impact, which is why conservationists aren't using that approach but HS2 proponents keep repeating it as loudly as possible like it means something. Talking right past each other, they are.
Yeah, I was trying to bring some data to the argument without actually reading the umpteen hundred pages of ES. It was a pretty useless result, but after spending ages getting that far (and never succeeding in getting the route into Magic) I thought I might as well post what I had.
El Pollo Diablo wrote:
Wed Feb 10, 2021 4:25 pm
at night I can hear train horns from two miles away, across the other side of town
Will there be footpaths across the HS2 line? :shock:

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Re: HS2

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed Feb 10, 2021 7:03 pm

I was interested in it, thanks for posting it. Definitely worth trying these back-of-envelope approaches (well, a pretty sophisticated envelope!) and to be honest I was surprised by the high total without including any complex ecology stuff ;)

108 AWs affected in some way (not destroyed) actually seems plausible. Though the focus on AWs is a bit of a nuisance because they're irreplaceable and excluded from the NNL metrics anyway. Equally concerning are impacts on grassland, hedges, other bits of woodland, water bodies and their margins, agri-environment areas, etc etc.
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Re: HS2

Post by plodder » Wed Feb 10, 2021 7:19 pm

I thought the emphasis on AW was because you can't recreate it as easily as other habitats, which HS2 are spending a fortune doing, lest we forget.

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Re: HS2

Post by plodder » Wed Feb 10, 2021 7:23 pm

What are the sample sizes on those studies? Were the experiments repeated to gain confidence in the results? Etc. I've had... interesting experiences with ecologists insisting one thing will happen if we don't (insert expensive mitigation here) only to find (never work with children and animals).

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Re: HS2

Post by Sciolus » Wed Feb 10, 2021 7:26 pm

Of course, not all AWs are AWs. Magic distinguishes "Ancient and Semi-Natural Woodland" and "Ancient Replanted Woodland"; presumably the latter may have seedbanks and stuff but is still likely to be lower value than a continuously wooded site.

Also, many of the AW units in the database have never actually been surveyed, but are identified using a computerised procedure something like "Does the map show it's a wood? Does this map from 1832 show wood on the same land area? Then it's AW." A former colleague told me about bickering with the EA about a designated AW. The site had presumably been a wood a couple of hundred years ago, but the land had then been quarried, and then used as a landfill, with the current wood part of the landfill restoration, so even the seedbank argument fails hopelessly. But that's an unusual situation, of course.

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Re: HS2

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed Feb 10, 2021 7:59 pm

plodder wrote:
Wed Feb 10, 2021 7:23 pm
What are the sample sizes on those studies? Were the experiments repeated to gain confidence in the results? Etc. I've had... interesting experiences with ecologists insisting one thing will happen if we don't (insert expensive mitigation here) only to find (never work with children and animals).
The studies are pretty decent, but as you say it's not always straighforward generalising from one population to another (any more than it is with humans), let alone predicting effects across species/continents/ecosystems etc. Sometimes we get lucky and birds aren't as disturbed as expected (and there's huge inter-species variation in this - things like Brants (mentioned above) and Turnstones are complete bomb-proof, whereas stuff like godwits and curlews will bugger off at the first sign of trouble). But then on other occasions, people go to a lot of effort trying to create habitat and it doesn't get used. Hence 'minimise' being at the top of the hierarchy.

But there's certainly a consistent pattern showing that noise above 50-60 dB ish causes disturbance. The consequences of that disturbance will vary massively depending on all sorts of things, so without popping out to some ancient woods with loudspeakers and doing a study on-site, all we can do is proceed with caution using the best available evidence from other systems.
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Re: HS2

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed Feb 10, 2021 8:06 pm

Sciolus wrote:
Wed Feb 10, 2021 7:26 pm
Of course, not all AWs are AWs. Magic distinguishes "Ancient and Semi-Natural Woodland" and "Ancient Replanted Woodland"; presumably the latter may have seedbanks and stuff but is still likely to be lower value than a continuously wooded site.

Also, many of the AW units in the database have never actually been surveyed, but are identified using a computerised procedure something like "Does the map show it's a wood? Does this map from 1832 show wood on the same land area? Then it's AW." A former colleague told me about bickering with the EA about a designated AW. The site had presumably been a wood a couple of hundred years ago, but the land had then been quarried, and then used as a landfill, with the current wood part of the landfill restoration, so even the seedbank argument fails hopelessly. But that's an unusual situation, of course.
Yes, for sure. As I understand it, some ancient bits aren't mapped, and some mapped bit probably aren't ancient. And some more recent woodland is still very valuable, and some ancient woodland has been badly managed and isn't doing too well, etc etc.

Presumably HS2 have done proper Phase 1 surveys everywhere that's directly impacted, but I'm not going to go reading thousands of pages of EIA either. (I'm having quite enough fun with a similar-length one in Portuguese).
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Re: HS2

Post by plodder » Thu Feb 11, 2021 7:47 am

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Wed Feb 10, 2021 7:59 pm
all we can do is proceed with caution using the best available evidence from other systems.
Not really. All we can do is put the uncertainty and evidence into the mix of costs and benefits and then do the best with the money we have.

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Re: HS2

Post by plodder » Thu Feb 11, 2021 8:17 am

plodder wrote:
Thu Feb 11, 2021 7:47 am
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Wed Feb 10, 2021 7:59 pm
all we can do is proceed with caution using the best available evidence from other systems.
Not really. All we can do is put the uncertainty and evidence into the mix of costs and benefits and then do the best with the money we have.
but agreed, in reality the precautionary principle dominates ecological thinking. You can see where the tensions arise, and unfortunately it’s not often a creative tension.

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Re: HS2

Post by El Pollo Diablo » Thu Feb 11, 2021 11:32 am

Sciolus wrote:
Wed Feb 10, 2021 6:44 pm
El Pollo Diablo wrote:
Wed Feb 10, 2021 4:25 pm
at night I can hear train horns from two miles away, across the other side of town
Will there be footpaths across the HS2 line? :shock:
I'm not sure how your question follows from my statement tbh, but no, of course HS2 won't have level crossings. Any rights of way will be closed, re-routed, bridged or tunnelled.
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Re: HS2

Post by Sciolus » Thu Feb 11, 2021 2:17 pm

I've only ever observed train horns being sounded on the approach to foot crossings, is all.

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Re: HS2

Post by El Pollo Diablo » Thu Feb 11, 2021 2:44 pm

ah, I see. That makes sense. They're sounded for a lot of reasons, most particularly when there are workmen at the lineside, as well as for other types of vehicular level crossing.
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Re: HS2

Post by El Pollo Diablo » Thu Feb 11, 2021 2:55 pm

Phase 2A, from Brum to Crewe, has received Royal Assent.
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Re: HS2

Post by plodder » Thu Feb 11, 2021 4:50 pm

Greens for HS2. Worth a read.

Who they are:
https://hs2.green/who-we-are/

Here's their reasoning:
https://hs2.green/explainers-evidence/

Here they are on ancient woodlands:
https://hs2.green/108-ancient-woodlands-destroyed/

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Re: HS2

Post by plodder » Wed Feb 17, 2021 2:57 pm

plodder wrote:
Thu Feb 11, 2021 4:50 pm
Greens for HS2. Worth a read.

Who they are:
https://hs2.green/who-we-are/

Here's their reasoning:
https://hs2.green/explainers-evidence/

Here they are on ancient woodlands:
https://hs2.green/108-ancient-woodlands-destroyed/
Nothing??

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Re: HS2

Post by El Pollo Diablo » Wed Feb 17, 2021 5:33 pm

I'm already converted, fella.
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Re: HS2

Post by plodder » Wed Feb 17, 2021 5:51 pm

I was thinking more about those who revere the sanctity of our environmental campaigns sector

eta we all know you think they're a bunch of c.nts epd

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Re: HS2

Post by El Pollo Diablo » Thu Feb 18, 2021 10:10 am

I did see the old "most destructive project to forests since WW2" thing in the wild again yesterday. I'd be fascinated to see a genuine comparison of HS2 with, say, HS1, or any of the 73 motorways in the UK. Because, let's be honest, it's total shite, isn't it?
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Re: HS2

Post by Bird on a Fire » Thu Feb 18, 2021 12:36 pm

El Pollo Diablo wrote:
Thu Feb 18, 2021 10:10 am
I did see the old "most destructive project to forests since WW2" thing in the wild again yesterday. I'd be fascinated to see a genuine comparison of HS2 with, say, HS1, or any of the 73 motorways in the UK. Because, let's be honest, it's total shite, isn't it?
I did start a thread for that. viewtopic.php?f=14&t=1648 Woodchopper came up with a motorway that was probably long enough to be a competitor, but it's hard getting detailed environmental impact data from the 1950s because nobody have a crap. I was genuinely surprised that there weren't more obvious examples.

The policy/legislative context has changed quite a lot since the 1960s as well. New motorways were never promoted as green infrastructure the way HS2 is.
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Re: HS2

Post by Bird on a Fire » Thu Feb 18, 2021 12:43 pm

plodder wrote:
Wed Feb 17, 2021 2:57 pm
plodder wrote:
Thu Feb 11, 2021 4:50 pm
Greens for HS2. Worth a read.

Who they are:
https://hs2.green/who-we-are/

Here's their reasoning:
https://hs2.green/explainers-evidence/

Here they are on ancient woodlands:
https://hs2.green/108-ancient-woodlands-destroyed/
Nothing??
Sorry, was away on fieldwork from Friday and didn't see this.

No mention of connectivity nor justification of net biodiversity loss on their explainers page, so no obvious place to start to get their take on the concerns serious people have. Do they address that stuff anywhere?

I know there's also value in debunking sloppily-worded exaggerations and misunderstandings and stuff from random anonymous twitter people, but I'm not very interested in reading it, especially from a group who've done their own sloppily-worded exaggerations on Twitter as discussed above.

Like EPD I'm already in favour of HS2, I'd just like them to follow government policy on biodiversity and come up with compensation that might actually work a bit.
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Re: HS2

Post by Bird on a Fire » Thu Feb 18, 2021 12:48 pm

plodder wrote:
Wed Feb 17, 2021 5:51 pm
I was thinking more about those who revere the sanctity of our environmental campaigns sector

eta we all know you think they're a bunch of c.nts epd
Who's that then? Certainly not me.

Your shoutiness hierarchy earlier was spot on I think. I do have the odd misgiving about a lot of publicity-seeking activism stuff, but like the RSPB don't prioritise dissing earnest kids in tunnels when big business, politicians and regulators are f.cking things up wholesale with little other pushback.

Tutting about rubbish on Twitter might give a smug sense of superiority but it's pretty empty and meaningless. The interesting conversations are the ones that engage with science and policy.
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Re: HS2

Post by plodder » Thu Feb 18, 2021 1:50 pm

That'll be Greens4HS2 then, who are incidentally being trolled to sh.t by their environmentalist colleagues for being sell outs.

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Re: HS2

Post by Bird on a Fire » Thu Feb 18, 2021 2:10 pm

I mean, if they're uncritically endorsing the current HS2 plans then at best they're depressingly unambitious - a form of green Stockholm Syndrome where you're so used to environmental destruction that you seek to quell criticism of it if this time they're building something you like.

I don't really enjoy green-on-green violence. We all agree that we need to decarbonise and we all agree that biodiversity in the UK needs stronger conservation and considerable effort to improve connectivity and functioning of the wider environment.

Some people think it's ok for a £100bn flagship government project to support one of those pillars while undermining the other. Other people would like to see consistent progress across the board, and joined-up policymaking. But we're all on the same team really, we just disagree on where the line between "pragmatism" and "being taken for a complete mug" lies.

For me I think "net loss of biodiversity" puts current HS2 plans squarely in the mug category, which is why I'd be interested in seeing what Greens4HS2 think about it.
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