Letter: No to HS2

By READER: Peter Douglas | 09/08/2016 0 comments

Letter: No to HS2

I WOULD like to respond to HS2’s comments regarding the Rotherham Advertiser article when they said the new route through South Yorkshire would be ‘quieter and involve demolishing less properties’. Firstly, it would certainly not be quieter for the residents of Bramley, nor for the residents of Mexborough where the track will be elevated 20m in the air as it crosses the canal, the river, the existing railway and the main Doncaster road.

From HS2's own report (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/68984/options-for-phase-two-of-the-high-speed-rail-network-appraisal-of-sustainability-appendix-3.pdf) they state (my bold):

12.4.Meadowhall group


The group comprised options SYI17 and SYI18.

The group was located to the south-east of Meadowhall. Option 17 was located to the east of the disused Sheffield City Airport running parallel to the M1, and then under the A630 to the south. Option 18 was located to the south of the airport and the A630. Both options were located within 10-15 minutes’ walk from Sheffield City Centre, train station or Supertram. Both options would have had no residential demolitions but would have taken some green belt, and Option 17 would have been in conflict with two extant planning consents. Both options would have had low potential to support future jobs and houses. Neither option would have had a direct impact on historic or natural resources.

It goes on further to state:

13.9.East of Rotherham group


The group comprised long routes extending from west of Bolsover in the south, closely following the M18 to Bramley, where the route split east and west of Mexborough and continued north to Normanton. The group also comprised a delta junction into Sheffield at Aughton. Both routes east and west of Mexborough would have had an indirect impact on a scheduled monument and several listed structures at Sutton Scarsdale; and a direct impact on a conservation area. Residential properties would have experienced noise impacts at Bramley (where the route would have been in cutting) and in Swinton and Mexborough. Potentially high noise impacts would have remained after mitigation. In addition, the route west of Mexborough would have had potential hydrological impacts at Wintersett Reservoir.



16.2.Sheffield Midland group


Options 4a and 4c would have required the demolition of a moderate number of residential properties located in two groups; flats to the south-east of the existing station and a group of houses to the north. Options 4b and 4d would have had a lower number of residential demolitions only affecting the flats to the south-east of the station. All options would have required the demolition of four community buildings. Options 4a and 4c would have displaced approximately 2,500 jobs and potentially supported approximately 8,000 jobs (so 500 net jobs - est) and 600 houses. Options 4b and 4d would have displaced approximately 3,000 jobs but would have potentially supported approximately 7,500 jobs (so 4000 net jobs - est) and 600 houses. All options would have been in conflict with one extant planning consent. All options would have had a major adverse impact on townscape and required major works to the Grade II listed station. They may also have required works to one major and three minor rivers; and would have had an impact on Flood Zone 3.

From the information in their own report they (HS2) had discounted the Eastern route - Bramley, Mexborough etc due to the severe noise impacts even after mitigation and impacts on a reservoir. Having spoken to HS2 on numerous times and seen the results of a freedom of information request HS2 have stated they have no idea of how many properties will a) be demolished and b) impacted by noise and visually blighted. Since the inception of this project, a whole development of 212 homes has nearly been built in one location at Mexborough (200 homes completed). Every one of these homes, which were not in the report as they had not been built, will be demolished. I am told there is a housing shortage. Twenty per cent of these homes are social housing. I am told there is a lack of social housing. The route was discounted even BEFORE these homes were built.

The route was changed from Meadowhall to Sheffield station - however no HS2 train will get to the station as the trains will have to run on slow speed spur lines. The preferred route is SLOWER than the previously preferred route. It also gives greater capacity. Yet it is discounted. One of the main reasons is "geological instability around Meadowhall. Funny, I have not seen and problems with the existing interchange nor the Meadowhall retail park since it opened. The new preferred route goes straight through the Yorkshire coalfields, so obviously there will be no geological instability there. They also give as an example the cost of building the Tinsley Viaduct for the M1 compared to the cost of keeping it safe. The bridge is a box girder construction - after several collapses around the world - all due to poor build quality,  it has been virtually rebuilt with regard to the supporting structure IN CASE it was faulty. The design was apparently sound but once constructed was next to impossible to inspect if it had been built correctly. Hence the high maintenance costs.

HS2 have changed their strategy for the project now and moved away from speed (probably why they picked the slowest option for London to Sheffield) and to maximise theoretical capacity. HS1 built in 1994 was built to allow eight trains per hour through to the Channel Tunnel. As of 2014 it was running two to three. I am told there are new trains sat unused as there is no call for them. If HS1 got it so wrong with regards to capacity, got it so wrong with regard to their costings (France to Strasbourg - £22m per mile, HS1 £80m per mile) how can anyone believe a word they say? On one hand they tell us that the new route will demolish fewer properties, but then confess they have no idea how many properties will be demolished. It reminds me of a meeting where a senior chemist was asked about the presence of dioxins around an incinerator and replied: “We have found no trace of dioxins.” To the next question - “how often do you test for them?” The reply was “We have never tested for them.”

Where else in the world, outside of China, Russia and Korea, would a government quango (HS2 is a body set up by the government to deliver the project) run roughshod over the land with little or no regard for individuals, community or countryside? There is absolutely no surprise that the costs have so far risen from the original estimate of £35bn, then at £45bn a new chief executive was brought in to curb costs, and the current estimate is £56bn - and they have not even got approval or started digging. However they have managed to spend approx £1.4bn to date. £180m on their own offices and several senior staff paid several times more than the current Prime Minister.

However I must confess they have saved some costs as Sheffield council paid £6k for breakfasts for the HS2 staff while spending a total of £190k in lobbying of HS2 to get the route changed away from Meadowhall and into Sheffield centre, which provide no benefits to Rotherham, Barnsley Chesterfield or any surrounding area.

HS2 are running amok with regard to their own estimates on cost, on impacts, on demolitions and on communities. It is time, indeed past time that this region was made aware of this and in the light of scrutiny, the project is halted before it wastes the obscene figures in financial terms and ruins countless lives throughout this region.

NO to HS2.

Peter Douglas


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