CANAL PAYBACK: Rail plans wreck £3m dream

Robin Stonebridge, chairman of Chesterfield Canal Trust.

Robin Stonebridge, chairman of Chesterfield Canal Trust.

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Chesterfield Canal volunteers will demand compensation whether or not HS2 goes ahead – after missing out on almost £3 million of funding.

The volunteers have already had to hand back a £400,000 grant and drop a £2.4m lottery bid because they can no longer guarantee the canal will be available for public use in the future.

The proposed routes would destroy much of the work already done and scupper the remaining plans. Now the group is warning that compensation will be sought regardless of whether the proposed route goes ahead or not. The high-speed rail link would:

• obliterate a 1,200-metre stretch of the canal between Renishaw and Killamarsh

• cut through Hartington lock and Bell House basin

• slice across one end of Staveley Puddle Bank and then again through the Puddle Bank next to an aqueduct over the River Doe Lea

• chop through Sitwell Arms Hotel in Renishaw

• bury the canal under an embankment on the approach to Killamarsh

• cut through Brindley Loops where the trust had planned to rescue the original route of the waterway.

The trust claims that a map submitted by HS2 Ltd to the Government at the end of March 2012 does not show Staveley Town Basin and shows a road going south-west from the basin that does not exist.

The basin construction began in March 2011 and the first canal boat entered the new basin two months before the Engineering Options Report was presented by HS2 Ltd.

Chairman of Chesterfield Canal Trust Robin Stonebridge said: “If the rail link goes ahead, we will be looking for alteration, compensation and mitigation from HS2.

“Even if it doesn’t go ahead, we’ll have lost four years of opportunity and hard cash so we’ll be looking for compensation.”

Volunteers working to restore Chesterfield Canal have missed out on thousands of pounds worth of vital funding because of plans for a high-speed rail link.

Their group’s chairman has warned that compensation will be sought regardless of whether the proposed route for HS2 gets the green light or not.

Robin Stonebridge, chairman of Chesterfield Canal Trust, said: ”The plan has major implications for the canal restoration. We’ve got a £2.4m lottery bid that went on the back burner and we had a grant for £400,000 which we were unable to take up because we couldn’t guarantee that the canal would be available for public use in 25 years time which is a common requirement for grant funding.

“If the rail link goes ahead, we will be looking for alteration, compensation and mitigation from HS2.

“Even if it doesn’t go ahead, we’ll have lost four years of opportunity and hard cash so we’ll be looking for compensation.”

Under the plan, a 1200-metre stretch of the canal between Renishaw and Killamarsh would be obliterated because the track would be at the same height and on the same alignment as the waterway.

The proposed route for the £42bn rail link from London to Leeds would impinge on the following areas:

• Staveley - The link would cut through the Hartington lock and Bell House basin, slice through one end of Staveley Puddle Bank and then again through the Puddle Bank next to an aqueduct which will carry the canal over the River Doe Lea.

The trust claims that a map submitted by HS2 Ltd to the Government at the end of March 2012 does not show Staveley Town Basin and shows a road going south-west from the basin that does not exist. The basin construction began in March 2011 and the first canal boat entered the new basin two months before the Engineering Options Report was presented by HS2 Ltd.

• Renishaw - The proposed route slices through the canal and goes straight through Sitwell Arms Hotel.

• Approaching Killamarsh - Canal is buried by an embankment.

• Between Renishaw and Killamarsh - The proposed route would slice through Brindley Loops where the canal trust plans to rescue the original route of the waterway. The canal was diverted away from this area in the 1890s when the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway was built.

A decision on the proposed route is expected in the autumn.

Clive Green, spokesman for HS2 Ltd, said: “HS2 Ltd is aware that Chesterfield Canal Trust has plans for the area and knows that they are important to the community. We are currently reviewing all the responses to HS2’s consultation route and we work closely with organisations including the Canals & Rivers Trust and local authorities as we develop the programme to deliver Britain’s new high speed rail network.

“The Government intends to announce its plans for Phase Two later this year.”