HS2 Update 17 July 2017 – Depot nr Skelton Grange

Today saw a flood of documents released from HS2.

Our initial comments and links to their files can be found on our facebook discussion:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/sowhaths2/permalink/1794267610601594/

In short (so far):

  • The route hasn’t changed through our area, the tunnels and viaducts are as bad as ever
  • HS2 have proposed a depot next to the M1 opposite Arla (Skelton Grange / Stourton) instead of Crofton
  • SOWHAT achieved a small victory with improved compensation arrangements at tunnel mouths

SOWHAT and Woodlesford residents clearly made a significant impact, this is reflected in the HS2 consultation reports, but HS2 don’t justify their position and haven’t reduced the devastation they will cause to our area. Indeed, the disruption to existing rail services is likely to be worse during the construction period with the addition of the depot.

Chris Grayling (Secretary of State for Transport) failed to deliver the promised update to the House of Commons today and instead HS2 released many documents which don’t appear to offer much by way of justification for decisions taken. Grayling has been heavily criticised and the Speaker has promised to summon him to appear tomorrow to answer “extensive questions”.

 

Election candidates on HS2

SOWHAT asked the five Parliamentary candidates to complete a survey to inform the community of their position on HS2. Three written and one video response have been received.

You can view the individual responses here:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/results/SM-KL6P825H/browse/

The video response is here:

https://www.facebook.com/ElmetandRothwellLiberalDemocrats/videos/330400594044770/

Keep in mind that the viaduct is 28-36m high, 2200m long, and construction in our area is likely to take 7 or more years. You can read more details about the impact of HS2 here: HS2-Impact-Brief-v2.4.pdf

 

Also from the Constituency Election Hustings last Saturday run by Rothwell Catholic Church, we have the following report:

Conservative: Alec asserted his support for the project and the benefits he thought it would bring to Leeds. If it doesn’t come here, he says, then all the business will go to Manchester. KPMG have told him they will move there. He does not support the proposed route and stated that the reroute via tunnel is down to his campaigning.

Labour: David said he wants to see the Church Fenton spur abandonned, and that he wants HS2 to open an office in Leeds.

Liberal: Stewart wants a fairer deal for local people, the impact being too heavy, but talked about HS2 in principle as be progress.

Yorkshire: Matthew stated he was against HS2 and would prefer money to be invested in an East / West line across the Pennines.

Green: Dylan spoke eloquently against the HS2 project and said that they are working on a local transport plan that would reopen track closed under Beeching. He has had a long career working in the rail industry.

Responding to HS2’s Consultations

Note: These consultations closed on 9 March 2017

HS2’s consultation information, forms and guidance can be found on the following links:

Phase 2b Route Refinement Consultation *
Phase 2b Property Compensation Consultation

* NOTE: The route consultation form was not designed for our area and doesn’t make sense in the context of our location. We suggest you write a letter (or email), drawing on our templates where appropriate and adding your own content. Then send to HS2 as detailed below.

SOWHAT’s Support Documents

You can also view a copy of our HS2 Update (PDF) presentation and download our consultation template response support documents to assist you in compiling your responses. Our template responses make it easy for everyone to get involved but it is, however, important to personalise your response to make it individual – this carries far more weight when evaluated.

Responding to HS2 public consultations

The consultations close on 9 March 2017. Email responses can be submitted until 23:45pm on the final day of the consultation. Paper responses must be posted on or before the final day of the consultation.

Please only use the channels listed below when responding to the consultations. HS2 do not guarantee that responses sent to any other addresses will be included in the consultations.

Respond to the ROUTE consultation in the following ways:

Email your response to route2b@dialoguebydesign.co.uk

Post your response to the following FREEPOST address. Please use capital letters when writing the address. No additional address information is required and you do not need a stamp: FREEPOST HS2 PHASE 2B ROUTE REFINEMENT CONSULTATION

Complete an online response form that is available at the following website: https://route2b.dialoguebydesign.net  * SOWHAT suggest you don’t use this method as the form isn’t designed for our area, instead write a letter or email

Respond to the PROPERTY COMPENSATION consultation in the following ways:

Email your response to property2b@dialoguebydesign.co.uk

Post your response to the following FREEPOST address. Please use capital letters when writing the address. No additional address information is required and you do not need a stamp: FREEPOST HS2 PHASE 2B PROPERTY CONSULTATION

Complete an online response form that is available at the following website: https://Property2b.dialoguebydesign.net

Update and Call to Action

Today we held a public information meeting at Oulton Institute to update everyone on HS2’s current proposals, provide feedback from our meeting with them last week, and to set out what everyone needs to do urgently to respond to the public consultations.

To secure the future of our villages we need our voice to be heard. Only by generating a significant volume of responses will HS2 be compelled to listen. This could well be our last opportunity to influence their plans.

Responses must be submitted before their 9 March 2017 deadline.  Read more…

We also encourage everyone to sign our petition and to write to our MP, Councillors and LCC.

You can view a copy of our HS2 Update (PDF) presentation. We also showed videos from our drone flying at the height of the train, and walked through our template response documents.

The HS2 route consultation was not designed for our area and their response form doesn’t make much sense for us. It is better to write a letter (or email), drawing on our templates where appropriate and adding your own content, and then address this to HS2 as part of their “Phase 2b Route Consultation“.

The property compensation consultation form and details may be used as supplied, although you are also entitled to supplement or submit your  response by letter or email if you wish. You can also submit your response online.

Click the graphic below for a copy of today’s presentation.

Woodlesford Illustration


Click on the images to enlarge. Although it’s not strictly to scale the illustration above gives a good idea of the impact on Woodlesford. The tunnel mouth cutting is around 140m wide (because there are in fact TWO tunnels, one for each track), and the track depth below ground level is about 15m. The viaduct height can be seen on the profile below which is to scale. The red house is just over 7m high, the size of a typical UK house. The viaduct is four times that height at Swillington Organic Farm!

Click these links for more images and videos

HS2 Phase 2b Property Consultation

Dates for your diary…
HS2 Phase 2b Property Consultation and the Phase 2b Route Refinement Consultation events:

Saturday 21 January Woodlesford
Blackburn Hall, Commercial Street, Rothwell, Leeds, LS26 0AW 10am – 5pm

Monday 23 January Garforth
Thorpe Park Hotel & Spa, Thorpe Suite 1150 Century Way, Leeds, LS15 8ZB 12pm – 8pm

Tuesday 24 January Hunslet
Royal Armouries Museum, Armouries Drive, Leeds, LS10 1LT 12pm – 8pm

Why is this not in the village again?  Ask HS2!

Note that HS2 are likely to have different information displays at the Garforth and Hunslet events, so you are best to attend on the 21st if you can, but if you can’t make that… the others are better than nothing.

Further details can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/hs2-phase-2b-property-consultation-and-the-phase-2b-route-refinement-consultation-events-january-february-2017

Revised route announced by HS2

News this morning of revisions to the route make better reading for The Locks and The Maltings, but still a very significant impact on Woodlesford and our surrounding greenbelt…

Overview Map

Fleet Lane Map

Woodlesford Map

Main Line Map

Announcement 1

Announcement 2

Detailed description (pages 64/65)


Property Consultation

Summary: branch line to Leeds 230km/h over M62, track height over Methley Lane 9m, steep dive into cutting under Fleet Lane, into 1 mile long tunnels, main line continues at 360km/h north on 29+m high 2.2km long viaduct – highest visual and biodiversity impact ratings!

The map above shows the approximate route of the main and branch lines, the tunnel section in orange and viaduct in yellow. For detailed maps please use the links above.

Woodlesford residents let down by LCC

Having tried to work with local labour councillors and Leeds City Council to secure a better future for Woodlesford and Leeds residents we have finally come to realise that they have no intention of doing so. And worse, they have deceived us and lied to us.

Despite the Chamber of Commerce and Civic Trust supporting the views of Leeds residents and businesses in representations to HS2 and LCC, the council continue to work their own agenda, fuelling a vanity project on the south bank at our expense.

Everyone is of the opinion that an integrated station, with a through route to the north, would be far more beneficial to travellers and the city. LCC on the other hand would rather have a disconnected terminus on the south bank.

Keep in touch with the latest news from SOWHAT on Facebook

See what WNYCoC and LCT have to say, and have your say before it’s too late:

Chamber Report

Trust News (page 4) and Report

HS2 Site

April Pre Election Update

Since the announcement of HS2 our area has been blighted, with many house prices tumbling and the property market slowing dramatically leaving many unable to move or sell. Furthermore, the exceptional hardship scheme and the compensation scheme proposed for those affected by the route are woefully inadequate and haven’t eased the situation at all. If and when HS2 is operational it is possible train movements will be 24×7, will include overnight maintenance work and may also include freight services in the future.

Since David Higgins took charge of HS2 Ltd and through the efforts or our MP and SOWHAT, we’ve seen a commitment to re-evaluate the station location and route into Leeds. We believe a more direct tunnelled route, or a route largely following the existing transport corridors would be cost neutral in comparison to the complex viaduct construction originally proposed. Sir David Higgins also favours an integrated station in Leeds.

Representations to Leeds City Council resulted in 100% support of these ideas and for residents in our area, however we feel that subsequent commitment and efforts to petition HS2 Ltd have been lukewarm, with more attention being given by the Council to the development of the South Bank area of Leeds than to the plight of our area.

LCC could significantly influence plans for the station location which in turn would cause the route to be re-evaluated. SOWHAT met with Cllr Keith Wakefield (the leader of Leeds City Council) just before Christmas. He reiterated at that meeting that the Council are supportive of our cause and want to see HS2 brought into Leeds along a route which minimises impact on residents and which best integrates with existing rail services. We hope that the Council will lobby HS2 Ltd and Sir David Higgins hard to drive home this stance whilst the final route is being considered, though to date, we have seen little direct evidence that this is taking place.

The published route incorporates a 14m (46’) deep cutting through ancient woodland near the deer park at Clump Cliffe, and four tracks on viaducts across Methley Lane and Fleet Lane elevated to 24m (80’) before the lines split, with two continuing through Swillington Farm at over 26m and onward to Garforth, and the other two continuing at a height of 14m along the canal behind the Maltings, Pottery Lane and The Locks housing estate. The heights quoted are those of the track, remember there will be another 5-8m (up to 25’) above this for the viaduct, signalling and power gantries etc. In addition to the massive disruption during years of construction including road closures and the loss of local rail services, a permanent diversion of the canal and river are also possible as part of the proposals.

With the more recent proposals for ‘HS3’, to link Leeds and Manchester, and further interest expressed by HS2 Ltd to have one integrated station in Leeds, there is increased optimism that the route will be changed away from our area. A single integrated station for HS2, HS3 and existing local services is likely to require east/west orientation, with HS3 arriving from the west. The route for HS2 as currently proposed through our areas would not allow for such an alignment.

However, such optimism must be tempered by the current political situation, with a general election looming. There is great uncertainty as to what will happen following the election. With a change in government it is possible that plans for HS2 could change completely and any progress we have made could be halted or completely reversed. (On a more positive note, we could of course see the whole thing scrapped!) If there is a change of Government, it is also possible that David Higgins could be removed which would be a considerable blow as he is instrumental to the integrated station plans.

What is the current thinking of the main parties?

  • The current situation has developed under the coalition government and is likely to continue along a similar track under the Conservatives and/or Liberal Democrats. Both parties are openly supportive of the project. We could probably expect that the plans would continue as they are at the moment, but that David Higgins will continue with his work on looking to integrate the station in Leeds so a re-route would still be on the agenda.
  • The Labour Party is in favour of HS2 but has recently reiterated its intention to reduce the overall cost of the project. They haven’t made clear how these cost savings would/could be achieved. It concerns SOWHAT that an easy target for cost savings may be compensation for affected residents or the budget devoted to mitigating the massive impact of construction on local communities. Most of the comments relating to the budget for HS2 have come from Ed Balls in the Labour Party. As MP for Morley and Outwood, his constituency would be directly affected by HS2 if an alternative route into Leeds was chosen, which leads to SOWHAT wondering how impartial he would be when considering all the options. Mr Balls has also spoken about wanting to implement HS3 before HS2. Whilst we believe HS3 to be of more benefit than HS2 to the north of England, we certainly don’t want to see plans for HS2 simply put on the back burner, resulting in a further extension to the effects of blight and uncertainty in our areas. Labour could of course look to cut costs by announcing that Phase 2 should be scrapped with the line travelling from London to Birmingham only. They could also say they want to pursue only one part of Phase 2 meaning the line travels to either Manchester or Leeds but not both. This is all conjecture and we simply don’t know what they intend to do.
  • The Green Party is opposed to HS2 and want to see the project scrapped in favour of investment in existing and local rail infrastructure and public transport. They believe that long distance travel should be discouraged because it harms the environment and believe we should focus on technology as an alternative to long distance business travel in the future.
  • UKIP is also opposed to HS2 and believe it is a vanity project driven by the EU. They believe it has no business case, will saddle the country with debt and would be harmful to environment. They have said they favour investing in the existing railway infrastructure to meet any demand for increased capacity.

This is is a very simplistic analysis of the political situation in relation to HS2. We don’t believe it is SOWHAT’s job to influence the way people cast their votes. There are of course many other issues to consider at election time and we don’t want to start campaigning for a particular political party.

Last week a report by the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee said that there was no convincing case for spending £50bn on HS2. Lord Hollick the chairman of the Lords Committee said that “The Government have not carried out a proper assessment of whether alternative ways of increasing capacity are more cost effective than HS2” and that “In terms of rebalancing (the economy) London is likely to be the main beneficiary from HS2. Investment in improving rail links in the north of England might deliver much greater economic benefit at a fraction of the cost”.

This report was the latest in a whole series of damning conclusions about HS2 from within Westminster itself. It was significant however because the Lords had taken evidence from The Department for Transport, HS2 Ltd, STOPHS2 and the HS2 Action Alliance. The report they published was an almost perfect vindication of the perspective of the HS2 protest movement. The Lords agreed (after careful analysis of both perspectives and the evidence presented) that the arguments against HS2 are much more plausible that the (largely invented) reasons for its construction. They openly disputed the governments argument that there is a capacity crisis on long distance rail services and were critical of the government’s attempts to hide their own statistics on current passenger numbers on existing long distance services.

After reading the report and listening to news articles and interviews on the day of its release, we were expecting the government would feel compelled to counter the arguments from the Lords. Their response was simply to state that “the case for HS2 is crystal clear”. There was NO counter argument, NO evidence and NO reasoning. Just that simple statement. With such a staggering level of crassness in the face of overwhelming reasoned argument, is there any wonder that we have no idea what the future might hold for our community?