The route of HS2 should be changed and go through Cannock and Walsall, according to proposals revealed by campaigners in rural Staffordshire.
A working group in Lichfield set up by MP Michael Fabricant has suggested alternative routes for the high speed line which would see the track diverted away from the cathedral city.
One would see the high speed link following the path of the M6 and M42 near Birmingham Airport before skirting the A5 and M6 Toll to Cannock. It would then continue alongside the M6 to the west of Stafford.
A second proposal is running the line out of Birmingham alongside the A38 and M6 where it would veer off near junction seven passing to the east of Walsall up to the Churchbridge interchange south of Cannock and then follow the route of the M6 to Manchester.
Currently the line would pass through swathes of rural Staffordshire around Lichfield and cutting through the Ridware villages, Colton, Great Haywood. It would also see HS2 join up with the West Coast Mainline near Rugeley.
The campaigners argue that the Government’s preferred £42.6 billion route will do more environmental damage than their proposals. They say their alternatives make use of brownfield and ex-mining sites.
Mr Fabricant has also backed changes to lower the height of HS2 and the introduction of tunnelling in his constituency if the route remains unchanged.
He said: “This major change to the route of HS2 as it approaches Birmingham from the south and exiting from the north of Birmingham towards Manchester has been proposed by my HS2 Phase 2 Working Group which I call the ‘Macro Route’ and which I prefer, though I recognise that HS2 Limited is less likely to adopt it.
“However, this would form part of the petition to Parliament if the HS2 Bill is not defeated in Parliament in April. ”
He added: “This is not nimby-ism. It is important to note that when considered overall in the context of phase two as well as phase one, these routes are straighter than HS2’s ‘preferred’ route which shows a marked north easterly bulge around Lichfield. Given the likely need for elevated sections through urban, suburban and industrial areas and the fact that high speeds would not be possible here in parts anyway, the time and cost savings for a shorter line and the opportunities for redevelopment of brownfield sites would be significant.”
HS2 Ltd Clive Green spokesman said: “The hybrid bill for the construction of High Speed Two between the West Midlands and London sets out what HS2 Ltd believes to be the best route for Britain’s new high speed rail network following extensive public consultation on both the line’s location and the environmental mitigation that will accompany it.”
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