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HS2 Barn Owl Mitigation Plan

Contains extensive measures to mitigate our impact on barn owls as we build and operate Britain’s new railway.

We have developed a Barn Owl Mitigation Plan for Phase One, which sets out actions to prevent disturbance to barn owls during construction, and deliver compensation measures as we build and operate Britain’s new railway. The Plan is a key part of HS2’s environmental mitigation programme designed to create the best solutions to not only protect and preserve Britain’s wildlife, but to enhance the natural environment and leave behind richer, more diverse and better-connected landscapes and wildlife habitats.

The plan was developed for HS2 Ltd by a team of professional ecologists, including Barn owl specialist, and lead contributor to the Plan, Colin Shawyer of the Wildlife Conservation Partnership. The Partnership together with the UK Barn Owl Conservation Network has had significant experience in restoring the UK’s barn owl population during the last 35 years and in the design and implementation of barn owl mitigation measures for road, rail and other infrastructure schemes. The plan was also informed by current research including that commissioned by HS2 Ltd into barn owl dispersal.

As recognised in HS2’s Phase One Environmental Statement, published in 2013, the construction and operation of HS2 between London and the West Midlands is likely to impact populations of barn owl. The Plan sets out four main aims to mitigate this, including associated objectives and actions:

  1. Avoid the risk of potential disturbance to breeding barn owls during construction by installing temporary nest sites outside the area of risk and closing off potential nest sites where disturbance to barn owls could occur.
  2. Before the line becomes operational maintain the breeding population by creating up to 240 new artificial nest sites at least 3km from the railway.
  3. Seek to reduce collision risk with operational trains, by considering the use of screening planting in high risk locations.
  4. Evaluate the success of the Plan by monitoring the new nest sites.

The number of new sites targeted within the Plan has assumed that the level of uptake of these new sites by barn owls will be sufficient to maintain the breeding population in the affected regions. However, if this uptake is shown to be higher, it could realise an opportunity to increase the overall population of breeding barn owl pairs in these regions.

The Plan is already being implemented on the ground by our Contractors alongside the Wildlife Conservation Partnership.

To date, 135 temporary nesting sites have been installed, which will significantly reduce nest disturbance to the species while the railway is being constructed.

We intend to revisit the Plan and based on the nest monitoring being conducted for Phase One, use this research and any other new research on barn owls to fine-tune the Plan for Phase 2a and 2b of HS2 at an appropriate point in the future.

Document history

1 December 2020
1 December 2020