HS2: Rail project slated for traffic and environment disruption in new consultation report

A broad consultation into community views on the next stage of the controversial HS2 rail project has released its report which includes strong objections from communities around the West Midlands.

The Government launched a public consultation into its HS2 Phase 2a plans in February this year and sought the views of communities that would be affected by the works – including Woore in Shropshire and Lichfield in Staffordshire.

Woore Parish Council has long objected to the proposals, which would see heavy construction vehicles making hundreds of journeys through the small village near Market Drayton.

And parishes across Staffordshire have also stood up to the HS2 project, which has already seen ancient woodland destroyed to clear the way, including Little Lyntus Wood in Lichfield.

The latest consultation pledged to seek community views on the impact of road traffic, the impact on the natural environment, and transport links to future HS2 stations.

In this week's 72-page report, those views are laid out. In all, 499 responses to the February consultation were received.

Traffic

There were 345 responses complaining of a negative impact on road traffic because of the building works, while eight provided positive responses. A common view among those who provided positive comments was that a short-term increase in road traffic as a result of the works would be worth the longer-term decrease in road traffic once HS2 becomes operational.

Woore Parish Council's submission was quoted: "Woore Parish Council believes HS2 have underestimated the number of HGV movements on local roads including the A51 and A525. However even if we take HS2’s own calculations on the last published histogram, then the impact on these roads will be huge.”

Road safety for cyclists, pedestrians and horses was also often cited as a concern.

There were 108 respondents who provided negative comments and/or raised concerns about how HS2 Phase 2a works could affect air quality.

The impact on the environment was another common trend – one member of the public said: "The planned route runs straight through the fields on the edge of the Lichfield and Streethay... the same fields and countryside that HS2 will be cutting through are also public footpaths used by many to escape into the country... the proposed route and its construction are going to take away this needed green belt, and replace it with the sight and noise of heavy machinery for years."

Links

Of the 246 respondents who provided comments about whether there would be sufficient transport links to HS2, 217 provided negative comments or raised concerns about these aspects.

There were five respondents who provided positive or supportive comments about local transport provisions.

A member of the public said: "“In general, having only two stations between Manchester and London is limiting passenger access and the cost of travel and parking to the HS2 station will put many off using the line at all. How is it proposed that passengers outside of the principal HS2 stations travel to those stations?"

Many respondents also suggested reopening old railway lines throughout Staffordshire and northeast Shropshire.

Transport Minister James Stephenson said: "I am today publishing a consultation report as required under section 60(1) of the High Speed Rail (West Midlands – Crewe) Act 2021.

"I am placing copies of the report in the libraries of both Houses.

"I am carefully considering the report and will publish the Government response to its findings in June."

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