More pain for Staffordshire residents as HS2 decision delayed
Hundreds of residents living along the proposed route of HS2 through Staffordshire face at least five more anxious months of waiting to find out if they will be hit by the £50 billion project after the government delayed making its final decision, it has emerged.
The Government will now not confirm the route until after the General Election which is being held on May 7. Initially it was due to confirm the final route of the Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds leg of the high speed train line by the end of 2014.
Residents say the delay is causing them 'more pain' and causing their lives to be 'put on hold'.
The current 'preferred' route would cut straight through Jim and Mary Prinold's Sunny Hill Farm in Marston near Stafford.
It means the family farming business for the past 20 years would be destroyed.
Mrs Prinold, 69, said: "It is terrible. We are having to put our life on hold yet again. We are unable to make any plans and we do not know what is going to happen. It is simply causing more pain to everyone like us who potentially are going to affected."
Mrs Prinold said representatives from HS2 came to the village and told residents that the decision on the final route would be delayed.
She said: "They told us they were not expecting any decisions now until after the General Election. It is a great worry to everyone."
The high speed line will cut a 45 mile swathe through rural Staffordshire stretching from Lichfield to Swynnerton as part of the western leg connecting Birmingham to Manchester.
The route of the line between London and Lichfield has already been finalised.
Stafford MP Jeremy Lefroy, who voted against HS2, said he hopes the delay will mean the government will take more time to consider concerns raised by residents.
He said: "It is my understanding that now the decision on the route through my constituency will not be made until after the election.
"I hope if this is the case that they are giving greater consideration to representations made by myself and my constituents."
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin the Express & Star: "I understand local concerns about the proposed route and I do not dismiss them.
"People don't necessarily like to see a new line but we need to make sure we have the proper infrastructure in place to compete.
"I find it thoroughly ridiculous I can get from London to Paris and to Brussels on a high-speed line but not to Birmingham or Manchester or Leeds.
"If we are to give the Midlands and the North the chance to compete with London we must make sure there is better infrastructure in place."
Work on the high-speed line between London and Lichfield is expected to start in 2017.
A Department for Transport spokesman said: "The government will set out its detailed plans for Phase Two in 2015."
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