Field of dreams? HS2 machinery moves into Staffordshire countryside

This solitary drill may not look like much parked up in the picturesque Staffordshire countryside – but within a year its surroundings will be transformed into Europe’s biggest building site.

Work on HS2 has started with preparatory land investigations on the planned route between Lichfield and Whittington
Work on HS2 has started with preparatory land investigations on the planned route between Lichfield and Whittington

The first signs of work on the £55.7 billion HS2 high-speed rail line in the county have started.

After a decade of planning, ground investigation work is taking place on fields along the planned route at Whittington, near Lichfield.

Engineers are drilling holes, or using radar, to determine what type of land the 225mph train line will be built upon when major construction starts next year.

When completed in 2026 this tranquil part of Staffordshire will be transformed with a huge embankment, deep railway cutting, and a massive viaduct that will carry the super-fast passenger trains.

HS2 will travel through 45 miles of countryside in Staffordshire from Lichfield to Stafford to Stone to Crew
HS2 will travel through 45 miles of countryside in Staffordshire from Lichfield to Stafford to Stone to Crew

HS2 Ltd, the government-owned company behind the project, is currently assessing some 9,000 sites along the route between London and Lichfield for preparatory work.

In February the first phase of the scheme from the capital to the West Midlands was granted Royal Assent.

It is claimed HS2 will create around 25,000 jobs during construction as well as 2,000 apprenticeships and support a further 100,000 jobs.

But campaigners in Staffordshire have warned the line will cause irreversible damage to the countryside.

Nearby Whittington Heath Golf Club will see its historic clubhouse knocked down so the railway can be built.

Rare heathland will also be affected, say campaigners.

The line to Birmingham will open in 2026 and the full route is set to open by 2033
The line to Birmingham will open in 2026 and the full route is set to open by 2033

Staffordshire Wildlife Trust said 160 wildlife sites will be affected by the first phase of HS2, as well as 129 acres of ancient woodland.

The Woodland Trust has also issued a new warning about how the entire line from London to Manchester and Leeds will hit ancient woodland.

Beccy Speight, Woodland Trust chief executive, said: “Any loss or damage to ancient woodland is a catastrophe for the natural environment, particularly when you consider how little we have left.

“Just two per cent of the UK’s land area is made up of these precious and irreplaceable habitats, so for large infrastructure projects like HS2 to be riding roughshod over them, rather than setting an example to avoid them, is totally unacceptable.

“With the trail of destruction HS2 Ltd will cause to ancient woodland, it will never be able to call this project ‘green’ – so far, it’s been an absolute disgrace.

“HS2 Ltd will say it’s planting millions of trees along the route – that’s all well and good, but no amount of new trees will ever recreate ancient woodland.”

A  HS2 concept drawing of a viaduct
A HS2 concept drawing of a viaduct

HS2 will cut through 45 miles of Staffordshire countryside diagonally from Lichfield to Stafford up to Stone and on to Crewe.

Work on the rail line started as a Staffordshire landowner won a court battle against HS2 at a tribunal.

The case at the Royal Courts of Justice in London involved a rural equestrian property in the county where a substantial part of the claimants’ land was due to be acquired by HS2.

The property is bisected by a road and the owner asked for HS2 to acquire the entire property.

But the Department for Transport contended that the land should be treated as two separate parcels.

However, the court ruled the entire site would have to be bought by HS2.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “HS2 will be the world’s most advanced passenger railway and the backbone of our rail network.

It is a step to significantly increasing capacity on our congested railways for both passengers and freight; improving connections between the biggest cities and regions; generating jobs, skills and economic growth and helping build an economy that works for all.

“By investing in infrastructure the Government is seizing the opportunity provided by leaving the EU to build a more global Britain.

“We will now press ahead with constructing the railway while continuing to ensure affected communities get appropriate support and are treated with fairness, compassion and respect.”

The line to Birmingham will open in 2026 and the full high-speeed route is set to open by 2033.

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Comments for: "Field of dreams? HS2 machinery moves into Staffordshire countryside"

John Drake

I genuinely feel sorry for these residents they have found out the hard way

This is little more than another “EU High Command” order these pretend Tory puppets are implementing on behalf of big business and their banker friends to get good paid jobs

A few years ago in 2012 the people of Birmingham unanimously voted, in a "legal" Vote to have NO Mayor, the Tories ignored that vote as well and now everyone votes again for the Mayor next month.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-17961046

On this voting paper there is no option for none of the above, so if a candidate wins with a single vote the Tories will say its a massive victory for democracy , lol

The peoples wishes in the UK don't count, you democracy don't count, the Tories take no notice

johnjefkins

Residents are being compensated.

It is YOU John Drake that we need to feel sorry for. Why on earth do you believe this EU fantasy?

These 2 extra tracks are a UK designed solution to a UK identified transport capacity need.

And the decision to build it was made in our UK parliament by UK MPs - with a 10 to 1 majority.

The real question is whether our UK economy will survive Brexit or leaving the single market without significant damage - and whether our UK youth will actually cancel Brexit within a few yrs. 500,000 extra 18yr olds join our voting register every year. And lots of Brexit voters die each yr. And 3 million EU residents are about to be given voting rights too. The Brexit majority was small enough to be wiped out by only a couple of years of new 18 yrs olds. Things will be different soon.

John Drake

Why do you continually sing the praises for this disastrous EU project when folk all over the UK have petitioned against it? , are you connected to this project?

Why do you get personal and attempt to ridicule folk in a vain attempt to prove a point which cannot be logically won ?

If I and others do live in a fantasy, I can only assume this fully documented EU portal detailing all the Western European corridor, from Spain, through France up the tunnel into the UK, highlighting when it was voted through and were the road /rail hubs will be built in the UK, must be scotch mist and part of a collective delusion

http://ec.europa.eu/transport/infrastructure/tentec/tentec-portal/site/index_en.htm

One good point out of this is the latest polls show the young feel betrayed by the lies of the remain camp as the forecast Armageddon never happened and "our" country continues to improve to the detriment of Europe

Or it could be you like all things EU, dislike what democracy gave us and your willing this country to fail

victori89933786

I think we haven't voice we vote against it and carry on feel sorry for people wildlife and walk the countryside will be ruin at why don't want live in Staffordshire's anymore Staffordshire's just mean and selfshire I have live in Staffordshire's now

bjg

I take it the golf club is viewing this as an opportunity and getting a new clubhouse, just like the other golf clubs that have been affected by new transport links.

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