HIGH speed rail line protestors are demanding answers to why HS2 bosses are pursuing a route which bears striking similarities to one rejected six years ago.
An “East of Rotherham route”, which was put forward and thrown out in 2012, largely follows the current preferred “M18 route” through Aston, Bramley up to Mexborough.
Protestors said that if the former route was rejected on environmental grounds in 2012, they had doubts how the M18 option could be better, as it cuts through housing developments which have begun since, such as Mexborough’s Shimmer estate.
They want HS2 to either axe the high speed rail scheme entirely or revert to an option via Meadowhall, which was thrown out after Sheffield City Council failed to support it.
Chris Matthewman (pictured), chair of the Bramley HS2 Action Group, said the two lines were “broadly the same” and that HS2 had “given it a different name to try and hide the fact that this route was previously rejected”.
Mr Matthewman said: “Arguably, the M18 route takes a more central path — very slightly more westerly through Mexborough, hence the devastation at Shimmer.
“So the routes are the same but, since its rejection in 2012 on the grounds that the impact on people residing along the route would have been too severe, the M18 route now has additional impacts.”
Mr Matthewman said it was clear more people would now be affected as the Shimmer and Pastures developments at Mexborough had been built since 2012, and the scrapping of plans for a tunnel at Hickleton would cause greater noise problems.
Mr Matthewman added: “HS2 seem to be denying that these two routes are broadly the same and I believe they, and the Department for Transport, are claiming that it wasn’t rejected — yet clearly they are the same, and it was rejected.”
Jonathan Pile, group coordinator of Yorkshire Against HS2, said he had a Freedom of Information reply from HS2 that “confirms East of Rotherham is identical with the M18 Eastern Route except for the abandoned 2km tunnel at Hickleton”.
A HS2 spokeswoman would not be drawn on the similarities between the two routes but insisted: “HS2 will deliver major benefits to the Yorkshire region.
“The M18 route remains the best way to serve the region, meeting customer demand, providing fewer impacts, supporting Northern Powerhouse Rail, as well as being both less technically challenging and more cost effective.”