An environmental campaigner opposed to HS2 work being carried out in an area of ancient woodland which he believes inspired legendary children’s author Roald Dahl says he plans an appeal after losing a High Court fight.

Mark Keir said Natural England was wrong to grant a licence allowing clearance work to go ahead at Jones’ Hill Wood, near Wendover.

He brought the legal action against Natural England on behalf of the Jones’ Hill Wood Earth Protectors after HS2 was allowed to fell 0.7 hectares of land at the woodland as part of its construction works.

He said felling trees would affect rare barbastelle bat maternity roosts – places whether pregnant mothers gather to give births – and wanted a judge give him to go-ahead to challenge Natural England’s decision in the High Court.

But Mr Justice Holgate on Monday ruled against 59-year-old Mr Keir.

The judge said none of the grounds Mr Keir had put forward were “arguable”.

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Another judge, Mrs Justice Lang, had imposed an injunction on April 16 temporarily barring HS2 from carrying out work while litigation continued.

Mr Justice Holgate, who considered rival arguments at a High Court hearing in London on Friday, said that injunction could be discharged.

He said he aimed to publish a ruling, outlining the reasoning for his decision in detail, in the near future.

“It’s grim,” said Mr Keir, after the ruling.

“We are going to have to appeal. I shall be speaking to my solicitor and barrister.”

Natural England had said Mr Keir’s claim was “unarguable” and should not be given the go-ahead.

Barrister Charles Streeten, who represented Mr Keir, had told Mr Justice Holgate that Jones’ Hill Wood was believed to have been the inspiration for a number of Dahl’s classic stories, including Fantastic Mr Fox.

He argued that Natural England had failed to take the “correct approach” under conservation regulations.

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Mr Streeten said a “collection” of “concerned citizens” had been working to protect the wood.

Leon Glenister, who represented Natural England, said there was “no serious issue to be tried”.

In an earlier blog post on the licensing, Natural England wrote: “Our assessment has concluded that the felling of 0.7 hectares of woodland at Jones Hill Wood will not be detrimental to the favourable conservation of the overall bat populations in this area.”