Changing face of countryside seen from above as major HS2 works progress

The dramatic impact of HS2 on the Staffordshire countryside has been revealed in new images.

A huge hole has been excavated near to the railway line off Cappers Lane, where HS2 will run underneath the track
A huge hole has been excavated near to the railway line off Cappers Lane, where HS2 will run underneath the track

Construction work is well underway for the controversial line, which is 12 years behind schedule and carves through 45 miles of the county’s countryside on its way from London to the north west.

These aerial images, shot for the Express & Star via drone, show the latest progress, with a huge hole excavated on land off Cappers Lane in Lichfield.

Once complete, the line – which has been met with widespread opposition from residents, local councillors and Staffordshire MPs – will run underneath the A38 to the east of Streethay.

Earlier proposals for the route in the area would have resulted in it travelling on an elevated viaduct.

Aerial pictures showing the progress of the HS2 project around Lichfield, including this one of the Wood End Lane area

However, following a public outcry the House of Commons Committee overseeing HS2 agreed to change the law so that the railway would go under the A38 – meaning it will be less visible from Lichfield and the surrounding area.

It came as the future of HS2 was once against called into question as Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announce a raft of tax hikes in his autumn statement last week in a bid to balance the books. He confirmed that the Government would be pressing ahead with HS2 to Manchester, although he admitted its spiralling cost was “disappointing”.

Once complete, the line will run underneath the A38 to the east of Streethay

Lord Berkeley, who was deputy chair of the Oakervee Review into HS2, has urged Rishi Sunak to “put it into administration” over surging costs and “serious engineering problems” beneath the route through Staffordshire.

He said the latest cost estimate – using the All Construction Cost index published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) – was £155.52billion, more than quadruple the original budget.

Work in the Cappers Lane area

Meanwhile the Government has admitted that HS2 will cost taxpayers more than the benefits it will deliver.

According to new analysis by civil servants, the rail project will now deliver just 90p in economic benefit for every £1 it costs. The report also said that 43 per cent of the economic benefits of HS2 will be felt by those living in London and the South East, despite repeated claims by ministers that it would be a major component of levelling up.

More of the work at the Wood Lane area

Stone MP Sir Bill Cash, a long-standing opponent of HS2, said it was clear the project was an “economic disaster” and said it should be stopped in its tracks.

“Given the pressures on the Government’s finances at the moment, it would be absolutely the right thing to do, to stop it at Birmingham before it spirals further out of control,” he said.

“If they keep it, they will be sacrificing the national economic interest for the sake of a discredited project which they themselves know is unredeemable.”

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