Finally I have been able to meet with Minister Paul Maynard to discuss HS2(2b) and raise my constituents concerns about the impact the M18 Eastern will have to our area. Yesterday afternoon I together with Toby White, as a representative from a local business, and members of the Crofton Against HS2 Group, finally had an opportunity to raise some of the major concerns around the HS2 route and its impact on our area. The Minster changed our appointment at the last minute and we all thought the meeting wouldn’t take place, but I am pleased to say that it did and we all got to have our say, there are clearly lots more to discuss, but we didn’t leave without feeling that we had impressed upon the minister that there was a lot more to be done.
Ultimately, we demanded of the Minister that the best thing to happen is to change the route. Hundreds more people in our area will suffer from the current planned route. That is my number one priority when speaking with Maynard.
I make no bones about my belief the chosen route is unfair, the consultation that the Department of Transport consulted on the route that did not include the 2014/2015 realignment! So when we all responded to the consultation November 2016 to March 2017, little did we know that people weren’t given the right information to respond to! The entire consultation now looks like a sham. We have been promised an answer on this quickly. I will update everyone as soon as possible when we are given this.
We asked the Minister about the potential parkway and I was flabbergasted that the Minister could not provide any certainty to if the parkway station will be in our area or not. A Parkway station will add even more misery to our area should they decide to build one in the constituency. The roads are too rural and narrow a fact HS2 seem to constantly ignore. The Parkway will be like a massive car park for thousands of cars, specifically designed for commuter’s to access the rail links to Sheffield or Leeds. There will be no benefit what so evert to our area.
We raised concerns about stopping the horrible levels of noise pollution that would come from such a monstrous line. HS2’s tender documents imply there isn’t anything to be done about bringing down the levels of noise people in our area will be subjected to.
There have been lots of inconsistencies around HS2’s assessment to how many demolitions there will need to be and how many households will be affected. There seems to just as much misinformation on this issue along the whole HS2 route not just our area.
All of this makes me lose confidence in HS2 Ltd. They’re a terribly-run body, who seem to spend money like water while helping nobody at all. The Higgins Report – another thing we discussed in the meeting – was an example of this. It was rushed, harmful and misleading. As I said before, the route consulted on was not the one published, and HS2 appear to be constantly going back to routes already ruled out by Higgins in the past what a shambles. They’ve avoided releasing information about known mining areas when asked – even when we’ve submitted FOI requests. The M18 eastern route does not avoid known mining areas as they claim, our area is peppered with former mining sites something HS2 ltd seem to ignore. There were also lots of concerns about the surveying being done by MP’s in the Manchester area. Many of you will have heard the concerns raised in the House of Commons last week when HS2 came up in the debate last week!
On all of the above points, we have been promised answers by the Minister as soon as possible. We need him to take responsibility for these issues and give us resolutions to these problems. Paul Maynard seemed to share a sense of frustration too and he has been very vocal about this, if the tabloids and social media are to believed. He has said that he would try to improve communication with the HS2 ltd. We’ve heard that before though, so it will be refreshing to see if anything actually happens especially as HS2 Ltd engagement officers cancelled an important meeting with the Action Group the day they were due to meet!
He has also said he will get advice on the possibility of tunnelling. We reiterated the point that the North is being treated worse than the South on this issue. 24% of HS1 is tunnel, 29% on HS2 phase 1, 21% Phase 2 Western Leg but only 2% on the Eastern Leg of Phase 2. Others get it and we don’t, even though our area is just as (if not more) beautiful!
For local businesses too, the outcome of the consultation on the site of the depot must be released quickly. There are lots of businesses we would lose if HS2 came right through our patch. This is just one where we’d lose the positive impact of it. We need good jobs round here that pay well. HS2 is threatening that for us. While the July announcement looks like the depot is likely to move to Leeds, we need that certainty. This has been going on for far too long now, and I will make sure there are no delays after that consultation has closed.