Environmental response points in more depth

This page contains a more detailed presentation of information related to the Environmental consultation, including issues related to the rolling stock depot. You may also like to read our summary information and general guidance on responding to the consultations.


HS2’s Documentation is a Smokescreen

HS2’s promises are not legally binding

Based on expert opinion, the documentation that HS2 has provided is not legally binding. This means that HS2 have wasted hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayer money producing thousands of pages of non-legally binding content, which is merely a smokescreen to confuse and mislead the people they’re harming.

Assurances are worthless

HS2 policies are worded in such a way that they aren’t worth the paper they are written on. HS2 must provide guarantees, not smokescreens, to ensure effective control of construction activities and impacts.

HS2 operate in a contrived and disingenuous manner to deceive the public

HS2 don’t listen, the information presented reflects a point in their design from 2017, it contains many errors and inaccuracies, the consultation period isn’t long enough to read all the information put forward, the consultation and information events aren’t publicised widely enough, many people impacted are still totally unaware; this entire consultation exercise merely ticks a box – they do what they want, and Government lets HS2 (and industry) get away with it.

The volume of information produced and the short consultation period do not allow a typical individual sufficient time to read and respond. Longer consultation periods are necessary to be fair to members of the public. Additionally, the timing of these consultations is very poor with news dominated by Brexit and people’s time consumed with festive activities and preparations. Original indications that the consultations would run into January, due to Christmas, were not honoured.

Damaging to Health

HS2 don’t know what’s in the land they plan to disturb

Old landfill and mining sites (like the old Armitage landfill) contain asbestos and heavy metals like lead, which we will breathe in once the soil is dug up.

Even worse, the Temple Newsam rolling stock depot sits on top of 4.5 million cubic metres of toxic, contaminated land that the M1 spent ca. £2.4 million (in today’s money) to avoid building on. Chemicals in this land probably include arsenic, lead, mercury, hexavalent chromium, selenium, aluminium, boron, barium and chlorine – which cause cancer, heart damage, lung disease, respiratory distress, kidney disease, gastrointestinal illness, birth defects and impaired bone growth in children. When this is dug up, we will breathe in this dust.

Air pollution will be worse

Increased traffic and dust from construction and contaminated soil will affect the quality of our air and our health, but HS2 don’t plan to monitor the air in our towns and villages. In their (non-binding) Draft Environmental Statement, they mention potentially monitoring air quality by the M62 and at another existing monitoring station, but not checking on the air we’re breathing in our towns and villages every day.

HS2 clearly do not take our health seriously, because they suggest reviewing the air quality measurements twice per year or annually would be a good start. It only takes a day or two for poor air quality to cause serious problems, up to and including hospital admission for susceptible people (like asthmatics).

The World Health Organisation states that worldwide ambient air pollution accounts for:

  • 29% of all deaths and disease from lung cancer
  • 17% of all deaths and disease from acute lower respiratory infection
  • 24% of all deaths from stroke
  • 25% of all deaths and disease from ischaemic heart disease
  • 43% of all deaths and disease from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

HS2 is not doing enough to protect people from noise and vibration

For the construction period, HS2 has set noise and vibration thresholds above which they may provide support, like noise insulation or even re-housing. However, the noise limits they propose are worse than the limits occupational law enforces, because HS2 only look at average noise and not the ‘peak noise’. In addition, HS2 have not given any indication of how long people will have to live with excessive noise before they provide insulation.

The thresholds proposed are barely suitable for adults, and can harm children’s hearing, health, and (in the case of vibration thresholds) harm unborn children. Construction will carry on at night, including digging of the tunnel under Woodlesford.

HS2 is making people ill and doing little to help

The anxiety and stress associated with HS2, property prices and sales are already making people ill, both physically and mentally. This will only get worse as construction gets underway with congestion and disturbance increasing, People’s lives and wellbeing are at great risk and HS2 is doing very little to prevent this.

HS2 has failed to minimise health risks

HS2 states that the locations of construction compounds and site haul routes have been selected to reduce exposure to construction impacts; however, many are unacceptably close to people’s homes and will significantly increase health risks. This includes the 24×7 tunnelling compound in the heart of Woodlesford.


  • Sound insulation for homes is not an acceptable solution; everyone has a right to have their windows open, to have fresh air and the tranquillity currently enjoyed.
  • HS2 must use low noise road surfaces to mitigate any adverse changes in road noise, particularly at over-bridge sites.
  • Increased stress of commuters has not been assessed in relation to the longevity of the likely disruption.
  • The effect of lighting on the construction compounds has been significantly downplayed with little or no mention of the associated impact on health and wellbeing of residents.
  • HS2 are ignoring Northern Power House Rail; the additional trains and associated noise and health impacts have not been taken into account.

Losses to Homeowners

Homeowners aren’t fairly compensated for what they lose

HS2 make it very hard to prove that their plans (e.g. a tunnel under your house) are making it harder to sell and slashing the value of your home. You also have to prove that you must sell your house, but even if you are eligible within their very strict criteria, it’s very difficult to prove to their satisfaction. Eligibility criteria are extreme, only covering things like bereavement and divorce and potentially ignoring the needs of growing families.

Homeowners won’t be fairly compensated in the short or long term either

Compensation for people up to 300 metres from the track or less is very low. There is no provision for those who may be blighted, visually or by noise, further away, leaving homeowners out of pocket when they try to sell. HS2 have made no provision to compensate those affected now or during the construction period.

Further south, there are indications that even under compulsory purchase, HS2 are trying to push back the full compensation due to property owners to soften the impact on HS2’s finances.

Work could cause flooding and subsidence

Construction will change the water table and shift the land underneath us, so our homes could flood and sink. Home insurance premiums may rise, or worse become uninsurable.

Major Traffic Disruption

Traffic will be at a standstill for up to 6 years during construction

Main roads in and out of our towns and villages will be closed, including the M1, M621, M62 and Bullerthorpe Lane. Pontefrant Road (B6481) past Arla Dairy will be closed for 9 months. Construction traffic will make this even worse and combined with train station closures, we will be isolated and unable to get to work outside of our villages.

HS2 construction sites have hundreds of workers and will be open 8am to 6pm

This will make rush hour traffic even worse and increase traffic accidents, but HS2 say rush hours start at 8am and finish at 6pm, which we all know isn’t true. Contractors can work even longer and maintenance means the sites can run 7 days per week. Many sites will see activity from 7am to 7pm and some will operate 24 hours a day.

HS2 traffic monitoring performed doesn’t take winter traffic into consideration

HS2 has monitored traffic in our area for only a short period of time in the late summer / early autumn. This means that all of their predictions and estimates are flawed as they don’t take into account busier periods, such as when it’s cold, wet or the winter months which have far worse traffic volumes.

As a result, they don’t know and can’t tell how badly their road closures will affect us. Their predictions won’t be accurate, so their plans won’t be good enough to protect us from road chaos.

HS2 should reinstate the route through Pontefract Lane to Junction 45

There is only one road connecting Woodlesford and Swillington. HS2 should upgrade junctions to bring Pontefract Lane back into use before construction starts to allow an alternative route to Junction 45, Leeds and the Park & Ride facility.

Jobs and Businesses Impacted

HS2 do not plan to compensate businesses and landlords during construction

Local businesses will be adversely affected due to closures, diversions and congestion, and landlords will suffer (and some already are suffering) as area becomes undesirable. The impact on them has not been adequately assessed and there is no provision to ensure they can remain in business. HS2 have significantly downplayed the possible job losses and business closures.

HS2 will bring little new business and very few jobs to our area despite their claims otherwise

The decision to select the eastern route for HS2 through South and West Yorkshire whilst also being “minded to relocate” the HS2 rolling stock depot to Leeds is a disaster for the villages of West Yorkshire. This decision brings all the downsides of building and operating the new railway line with no benefits whatsoever for the villages.

The HS2 rolling stock depot is the only part of the HS2 project that can give any lasting benefits in term of quality jobs. Our estimate is that the depot could give rise to only 150 quality jobs with perhaps a further 150 jobs created in the immediate vicinity to support the operation of the depot.

Jobs for local communities would be predominantly in lower skilled roles as contractors will bring in their own skilled and managerial staff from their existing workforce or recruit nationally, disadvantaging local skilled workers.

Negative Environmental Impact

Green space will be torn apart during construction

More than two-thirds of Water Haigh Woodland Park will be used for construction. This takes away our green spaces for up to 10 years and they will take 30 years to return to their current state.

Wildlife reserves, legally protected species and ancient woodland will be permanently destroyed

There is a significant and unacceptable loss of ancient woodland, parks and green belt in our area. This will harm otters, birds (including owls and red kites), water voles and even rare amphibians and mosquitoes.

Wildlife habitats will be bisected

HS2 have given no thought to the movement of wildlife species across the proposed route in our area meaning habitat connectivity will be lost. Suggested general mitigation does not go far enough.

HS2 will cause irreparable damage to our landscape

HS2 acknowledge that there is a high magnitude of change in this area, with major adverse effects, both short and long term, with many permanent changes to the landscape being impossible to mitigate. These have however been consistently downplayed.  At what point do HS2 consider something to be unacceptable? They simply state that so far as practicable it will “integrate with existing skyline features”, this isn’t possible with a 29m viaduct, unless it’s painted blue and decorated with clouds.

HS2 have failed to mitigate the impact on landscape

HS2 have provided inadequate information of what, when and where advance planting is to take place. Planting may not be mature enough to have any screening effect by the time HS2 comes into operation. Inadequate consideration has been given to the impact of new planting on existing views which may be lost, particularly where close to homes. There is no indication of who will own and maintain planted areas long term or what protection they will have against further development.

Loss of Local Connectivity

New Fleet Lane bridge will limit access

The excessive gradient of the overbridge proposed for Fleet Lane will prevent or severely limit access to all but motorised vehicle access. With a gradient of around 20% this is must steeper than the maximum of 1:12 stated in British Standards. In practice even this gradient is too steep for many people, particularly older people and wheelchair users with limited upper body strength. Gradient and length of slope must be considered together. Sustained gradients of more than 1:20 must be interrupted by level resting platforms at maximum intervals of 30m.

Eshald Lane closure will significantly impact communities

Connectivity between Fleet Lane and Eshald Lane is vital to the three communities immediately adjacent. This route is used to visit family and friends, and to access shops and recreation. It also provides occasional alternative access when Aberford road is obstructed, allowing local residents to go about their business with the minimum of inconvenience.

If closed, the increase in traffic on Lynwood Avenue would be unacceptable and the junction with Aberford Road inadequate. Residents of Fleet Lane, the marina and connected roads would have no alternative access should its junction with Aberford Road be obstructed, e.g. vehicle collision or fuel spillage at petrol station, and similarly emergency services would have no route in.

Failures and Incompetence

There are multiple failures, and clear incompetence, on the part of HS2:

  • We are dismayed that a number of documents contain significant errors, inconsistencies factual inaccuracies, and misleading information; we are very concerned that this level of negligence is symptomatic of the lack of care shown by HS2 Ltd.
  • Furthermore, many environmental studies have been rushed, cut short and not covered a full year as necessary and required thereby invalidating design decisions.
  • The documents mislead the decision maker and portray a false sense of assurance and confidence.
  • Failure to define acceptability criteria and scoring metrics lead to arbitrary decisions without any accountability, the proposals for our area are not sound and should not be taken forward.

Build it once, Build it right

Government and HS2 should adopt a ‘build it once, build it right’ approach, creating a fully integrated station with through trains allowing the full benefits of HS2 to be realised, rather than crippling its potential with extra loops of track to take some trains into the main station.

Stourton viaduct

According to Bill Birch, a mining engineer with decades of experience who has lectured at the University of Leeds for 13 years:

“It is difficult to envisage a more problematic location for the proposed viaduct to access the proposed Temple Newsam rolling stock depot. Given that this evidence is so easily obtained by a simple desk study followed up by a site visit, it is hard to imagine that anyone with any engineering experience has actually already carried out such an exercise.”

Problems and additional expenses include:

  • Flooding in the area of the proposed viaduct; the area for construction is in the highest flood zone possible (zone 3) and the area between the canal and the river is in zone 2. Works going on at the moment in Leeds will increase the river flow through this area.
  • Planned at the widest extent of the canal and river and on a curve, increasing costs.
  • Two pillars of the viaduct will be in the canal on a sharp bend, making it hazardous for canal traffic.
  • The geology of the area makes it difficult to build and even survey properly.
  • Re-routing of piping across the canal, the Trans Pennine trail, operating large cranes on the flood-prone thin strip of land between the river and canal and moving high voltage lines will make this route even more expensive.

Temple Newsam rolling stock depot: Expensive and high impact

The proposal to relocate the Rolling Stock Depot to Temple Newsam is bizarre, in that it seeks to replicate all the problems of the original proposed location of the HS2 depot adjacent to Crofton, and adds some unique problems of its own.

While the original proposals to locate the HS2 rolling stock depot also had issues related to opencast backfill and potential old workings, the previous site did not have the additional potential problems associated with:

  • The Skelton Grange power station ash lagoon
  • The culverts (covered drains) needed for the Wyke Beck/Knostrop sewage works
  • Settling of the land under the rolling stock depot
  • A very expensive 310 metre long viaduct to access the rolling stock depot
  • Potentially serious contaminated land problems

Temple Newsam rolling stock depot: Contaminated land

HS2 propose to build on a 4.5 million cubic metres of fly ash and bottom ash clinker from the former coal fired power station. This is so difficult that the M1 does a double bend around this area – in today’s prices, the M1 construction spent ca. £2.4 million to avoid this ash lagoon. Removing sediment from other similar areas has caused fatalities and near misses, where excavators have been engulfed.

The ash will probably include (and then liberate when excavated) arsenic, lead, mercury, hexavalent chromium, selenium, aluminium, boron, barium and chlorine – these cause cancer, heart damage, lung disease, respiratory distress, kidney disease, gastrointestinal illness, birth defects and impaired bone growth in children. There is circumstantial evidence that the lagoon may contain even more dangerous contaminated waste.

The idea of drilling through this material to investigate it, then to excavate a minimum of 4 metres of this contaminated material whilst still having to drive piles through it to form a stable base for the depot, does not appear to be a sensible idea or a risk worth taking (for the HS2 contractors’ employees, or the people working in the surrounding factories).

  • The implementation of remediation measures to deal with the problem of continued settlement of the opencast backfill will be an additional expense.
  • The M1 has settled in places nearby and would be expected here too.
  • Old workings need to be investigated and voids filled, at a potential cost of at least £2.7m.
  • Soils heavily contaminated due to may years of sewage waste sludge injection by Yorkshire Water.
  • Soils will need to be treated or may need to be disposed of as contaminated waste: ca. £1.65m.
  • Cut and fill from the ash lagoon: ca. £10.9m

The proposed site is worse from an operational perspective as well:

  • Makes it harder for maintenance staff to service the line;
  • Makes it more difficult to get trains to/from York;
  • Construction and operation impacts more people;
  • Has more problems with old workings and land contamination;
  • Impacts nature reserves;
  • Brings fewer skilled jobs to residents;
  • Is likely to slow the trains down; and
  • Is more expensive, including new signals to be built at additional cost.

A dead-end station in Leeds

This requires extra loops of track to take some trains into the main station. It is hard enough to get into Leeds due to traffic and poorly operated public transport links, without adding HS2 users into the mix.

HS2 Should Find an Alternative

HS2 does not need to take this route

Other options are much less damaging to people, the environment and would be cheaper.

HS2 should identify a better station location

Far more benefit could be derived by a better choice of station location for Leeds and the surrounding area.


Please refer to separate guidance for Equality consultation material.