Huge HS2 power lines to be built across Staffordshire beauty spot
The Government has revealed it wants to construct a huge power line across a Staffordshire beauty spot as part of a series of changes to its plans for HS2.
The high-voltage line will stretch for more than six miles from just west of Newborough to the HS2 line near Stockwell Heath, passing alongside Blithe Valley and the Blithbury Reservoir.
It will be held together by a series of 50-metre high pylons and will serve as one of three independent power feeds required to provide electricity for the HS2 line between Birmingham and Crewe, which is due to open in 2027.
Ministers have also revealed they want to buy up more land across the county, chiefly for 'utility diversions'.
The plans were branded 'totally unacceptable' by Lichfield's Tory MP Michael Fabricant, who locked horns with Transport Minister Nusrat Ghani and officials from the Department of Transport at a stormy meeting in Parliament last week.
Mr Fabricant said: “This will be yet a further desecration of beautiful Staffordshire countryside by HS2 as the pylons will march across the Blithe Valley just south of the Blithbury Reservoir which is used for sailing and other recreation.
“Once again, a lack of coordination between HS2 and organisations like the National Grid means my constituents, visitors, and the environment will suffer.”
HS2 bosses say that power feeds for the line will be provided by either the transformer site at the decommissioned Rugeley Power Station, or a site near Newborough.
Mr Fabricant has insisted that the power source should be ‘buried out of sight’.
A letter from Ms Ghani to Mr Fabricant details the proposals, which are to be put forward as amendments to the HS2 Bill.
It says that following further design and development work by HS2 Ltd, a number of required changes to the original plans emerged.
This includes 'an alternative traction power supply for the railway' and additional land in Kings Bromley, Fradley, Alrewas, Streethay and Mavesyn Ridware.
The letter says: "HS2 Ltd will actively engage with affected landowners, communities and businesses affected by those changes to the Bill scheme."
It adds that anyone whose property is impacted on by the changes will have the chance to petition against the proposals, and have their petition considered by the select committee.
The budget for HS2 is £55.7 billion, up 71 per cent on the initial projection in 2010 of £32.7bn. However, critics believe the final cost may surge past the £100bn mark.
Last month sources suggested the cost of the line's main civil works could be more than £1bn over the allotted budget of £6.6bn, while the cost of acquiring land is estimated to be £2bn more than stated.
The concerns prompted Ms Ghani to write to HS2 chief executive Mark Thurston to ask if he had 'full confidence in the robustness of the numbers' provided by HS2 for its spending on land and property.
There have been six land and property directors at HS2 over the past five years, as the project struggles to carry out the largest land acquisition since the Second World War.
MPs on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) have said they want to question HS2 executives in relation to spending and claims that thousands of properties in the HS database had either not been properly valued, or not valued at all.
PAC member and Labour MP Caroline Flint, said: “If it is true that the costs of this project are out by billions of pounds and HS2 chiefs suppressed this information they and ministers need to come before Parliament and explain what is going on.”
The PAC has asked the National Audit Office, which oversees all public spending, to investigate.