Message from Richard Lloyd, www.hhag.org.uk
Since I last wrote, it's emerged the start of the Government's consultation will be on the 28th of this month. The consultation will be a national one, not confined to the areas affected by the first stage from London to Lichfield. The next stages, from Staffordshire to Leeds and to Manchester, will be announced next March, and the consultation for those will only be about the routes, not the need and principles.
Just to keep you abreast of developments, the first house affected by planning blight in our area has now been bought by the Government and boarded up. This is some 7 years before construction starts. Unfortunately, for the Leeds and Manchester sections, areas affected by the route will experience blight from next year, even though construction won't start until 2025.
For more information about the HS2 project, please visit www.hs2alliance.co.uk, www.stophs2.org, and www.dft.gov.uk/highspeedrail.
Original message 06/02/2011:
You are probably aware the proposed route for High Speed 2 has been published as far as Lichfield, and that work is continuing behind closed doors on the extensions to Manchester and Leeds. These routes won't be revealed for another 12 months, but unfortunately, it seems quite possible the proposals will affect your area. Consequently, your council and residents might be interested in a National Convention organised by people who are challenging the HS2 project.
Sixty Action Groups have been formed along the first part of the HS2 route, from London to Staffordshire, and these groups are keen that everyone on the continuation lines to Manchester and Leeds should be aware of what might be coming their way. The National Convention will be an ideal opportunity to learn about HS2, how it affects the areas through which it passes, and to meet campaigners against it. There are a number of excellent speakers, and a range of workshop activities. It is to be held in the Stoneleigh Showground, Warwickshire, on 19th February.
It would be appreciated if you could pass this invitation on to anyone likely to have an interest.
The main reason HS2 is controversial is that the Government wants it to run 30% or 40% faster than current high speed trains, such as the TGV or Shinkansen. Thus, the line has to be straight, and inevitably follows a green-field route. There are also no intermediate stops between the new out-of-town stations, each of which would become a focus for road traffic and further development pressure.
A public consultation is to start at the end of this month, which will cover both the national policy on high speed rail, as well as the southern sector of the route. Everyone in the country can participate, but it's doubtful anyone north of Lichfield will receive a detailed briefing or be encouraged to become involved.
The Government wants opponents of the HS2 scheme to be seen as NIMBY's. Of course, nothing gets your attention like the howl of one of the most powerful trains ever built, racing along a barren swathe twice the width of a motorway! However, most objectors support public transport, support railways, and support the idea of high speed rail: it is just this particular scheme they oppose. Thorough analysis has thrown serious doubt on every aspect of the project - the traffic projections, the need, the business case, and the environmental impact. As for the cost, it seems completely unjustifiable when so much investment is needed in the local transport on which most people and businesses depend.
Opponents of HS2 believe the Government should scale back the speed, and conduct a thorough analysis of the alternatives. Please visit the website www.stophs2.org for further details, or contact myself. Perhaps I could add that I'm a Parish Councillor, as well as the chairman of one of the Action Groups.