COLUMN: HS2 decision '˜is just plain wrong'

Yesterday's announcement on HS2 was greeted with dismay in the Derbyshire parish of Blackwell.

Tuesday, 18th July 2017, 11:59 am
Updated Monday, 11th September 2017, 12:31 pm
This is the kind of damage campaigners say we can expect from HS2 in Derbyshire.

Residents say the confirmed route would have a devastating effect on them - particularly the historic village of Newton and its surrounding countryside.

The HS2 Blackwell Group - which has been fighting against the route of the spur - released the below statement last night through its leader, Tony Mellors.

“Today marks the start of the second Battle of Blackwell versus HS2. There will be more battles before we win the argument. HS2 may have more resources, but we have the common sense of the people and communities affected, which will eventually prevail.

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“The Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, announced the decision by written statement, but was embarrassed by the Speaker of the House and MPs on both sides of the Chamber to come to Parliament to make his Statement on the Route of HS2 in Derbyshire and South Yorkshire.

“Such behaviour is not surprising to those groups who have tried to ease out the truth behind HS2 obfuscations and downright untruths. He called it Cock-Up and he should know.

“We are very disappointed to hear today’s announcement of the HS2 route which will have major impacts upon our communities and which will see an economic deterioration rather than improvement for the North Derbyshire and South Yorkshire areas.

“At a meeting with the Minister for Transport Andrew Jones in March, the HS2 Blackwell Group did not present a Nimby approach, arguing for the cancellation of HS2. We presented logical arguments in favour of the original HS2 route through a High Speed Station at Meadowhall, which would support an economic regeneration for the whole Sheffield and South Yorkshire Region.

“The consultation exercise on the change of route which includes 2 lines, a main line and a spur line through the parish of Blackwell, apparently resulted in 15 to 1 against the change of route. In 2013 the consultation resulted in only 3 to 1 against that original route through Meadowhall. It would appear that the consultation exercise was purely that - an exercise which would never be considered by Government.

“The reasons for the intractability of HS2 and Government to listen seriously to sensible arguments are not confirmed at this stage, but groups up and down the line will continue to investigate the background, and at some future date we believe that a Public Enquiry will be necessary to expose the failings of the process. With the huge cost that will entail.

“Sheffield City Council (SCC) failed to get their objective of a High Speed Station on the Victoria Station site, and won instead from HS2 a slow connection along the Erewash Midland Line into Sheffield Midland, resulting in London to Leeds travel time faster than London to Sheffield. When they won this second rate option, SCC should have agreed with their partners in The South Yorkshire Combined Authority, and combined with them to reinstate the Meadowhall Route. But they were not big enough to admit a mistake which is regrettable, but not surprising.

“Although very disappointed, the HS2 Blackwell Group are convinced that the decision today is “ just plain wrong” in so many ways , and in cooperation with other communities along the line, we will continue to argue our case. It will be 2022 before Royal Assent is sought on this route, plenty of time for opinions and available finance to change.”