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Plans to ease environmental impact of HS2 to be handed over

A graphic mock-up of the HS2 line

A graphic mock-up of the HS2 line

Plans to lessen the environmental impact of high speed rail are to be delivered to HS2 chiefs.

The demolition of properties as well as the loss of local woodlands are among the topics covered by the document which has been put together by Staffordshire County Council and Lichfield District Council.

The route – which links London with the Midlands and the north – will cut through parts of Lichfield and the surrounding villages.

County councillor Mark Winnington warned that HS2 could have an “enormous impact” on the area if the report’s suggestions aren’t carried through.

“The current design for HS2 poses significant and unacceptable environmental damage and disruption and shows little in the way of appropriate mitigation,” he said. “We have drilled down to the minutiae of the plans for the first phase of HS2 so we can get a full picture of the huge impact this scheme will have on our communities and on our environment.

“Our engineering, planning and environmental experts have unpicked the proposals, presented our concerns in huge detail and, where possible, offered viable options to lessen the impact.

“HS2 has tried to put forward a case as to why we need this high speed train network, but in Staffordshire we are not convinced enough has done to mitigate the enormous impact on the county should the proposals go ahead.”

Part of the plan also puts the focus on the line as it crosses the West Coast Main Line, with HS2 likely to be carried 10-15metres above the current ground level.

Cllr Winnington added: “The visual impact of some aspects will be huge and putting together informed arguments as to why they aren’t acceptable together with workable alternatives, such as running the route under the West Coast Main Line, will all help make a real a difference to the lives of affected communities if the scheme is forced on us.

“As a county council we are committed to working with local communities and district and borough council in areas affected by both Phase One and Phase Two to mitigate the impact and win fair compensation for those affected.”

Meanwhile, 35 MPs have backed a motion calling for the HS2 Preparation Bill to be scrapped.

The so-called ‘blank-cheque Bill’ is due to be debated today (June 26) in the House of Commons.

Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant has already said he intends to support the Bill in order to allow money to be unlocked for compensation payments to householders already impacted, even though he is opposed to the proposed route of HS2 and intends to fight it.

But Stop HS2 campaigner Joe Rukin has described the proposal to push ahead with the Bill as “simply irresponsible”.

“George Osborne will try and say that we need infrastructure investments and therefore it follows that because HS2 is an infrastructure investment, we need HS2,” Mr Rukin said.

“Every one of the stock arguments for HS2 has been knocked down, and all they have left is to stamp their feet and say ‘we want our train set’.

“To sign off a blank cheque on a project with little justification, and independent body after independent body delivering scathing assessments is simply irresponsible, and flies in the face of everything else that is being said about needing to tighten belts and be responsible with taxpayers money.

“Next month, the Public Accounts Committee will surely tear apart the case for HS2the details of the Amber-Red assessments will have to be made public following a ruling from the Information Commissioner, and the rulings of legal appeals will be out.

“The Government simply wants to get a quick vote through before any of that happens.”

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Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.

1 Comment

  1. Jozef Nakielski

    27th June, 2013 at 1:58 am

    I see the blank cheque has gone up by another tenner this week, that’s ten billion to us peasants.