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200 reindeer from Blithbury Reindeer Lodge face being culled to make way for HS2 rail line

By Jessica Labhart | Rugeley | News | Published:

The owner of a reindeer farm has hit out at HS2 plans after it was revealed the development puts five fields and more than 200 of the animals at risk.

Blithbury Reindeer Lodge boss Stephen Swinnerton has written to Theresa May, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and MPs to protest against the proposed high-speed rail development.

Mr Swinnerton said the impact of HS2 will be devastating to the UK’s largest working reindeer herd and the 30-acre site they live on, which is based just outside of Rugeley.

He added: “Closure would be the only option, but leave us with a dilemma. It would simply not be possible to re-home over 200 reindeer.

“The Government, its representatives, the select committee, the Minister for Transport and HS2 would ultimately therefore be responsible for the euthanasia of over 200 healthy reindeer.”

The farm currently hosts a popular Christmas experience for visitors, along with a training facility for staff and vets.

He added: “We sincerely hope that we will be able to engage with HS2 and suggest that there is an alternative location available in the area for the purposes they require, namely 11 acres of surrounding arable land, which would have no direct impact on our animals or Blithbury Reindeer Lodge.”

Mr Swinnerton, 66, set up the farm more than 10 years ago and designed the layout himself to enable the reindeer to be handled and moved safely with the minimum of stress. He said: “I would not consider re-locating as a viable option.

“This would mean not only re-locating the lodge, but the farm and all the livestock in addition to this we would have to re-establish our brand – Blithbury Reindeer Lodge – which many have worked so hard to create, develop and maintain over the years.”

An HS2 spokesperson said: “We recognise that people will be concerned about the impacts of construction, and we continue to engage with people and businesses to look at how we minimise impacts.

“We are planning to meet with representatives from Blithbury Reindeer Lodge to look at the impacts on their business and discuss the possible solutions.”

Jessica Labhart

By Jessica Labhart
@JLabhart_star

Reporter for the Express & Star, primarily covering Wolverhampton.

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