Responding to the Design Refinement Consultation

HS2 Ltd are proposing changes from Woodlesford to Leeds city centre

HS2 Ltd are proposing to change the design and route of HS2 from Woodlesford into Leeds city centre. It is important that as many local residents as possible respond to the Design Refinement Consultation (DRC) and make their concerns and objections heard.

The proposed changes affect only the part of the route that runs from the tunnel exit (near the Country Park) into the city centre. There are no proposals to change any other part of the existing plans for our area.

Details of the changes, notably a third viaduct and the tunnel portal being moved closer to residents of Woodlesford and Rothwell, can be found below.

How to respond to the Consultation

This new consultation gives you another chance to have your say on HS2.

Act now! SAY NO!

Voice your objections by submitting a response to the HS2 consultation before the 6 September 2019 deadline.

You can:

Respond online at;  or

Complete a response form or write a letter, and either

Email to; or


Completed forms can be posted free of charge, we suggest no later than 4 September 2019.

Numbers count, so everyone in your household should submit their own individual response (including children old enough to express an opinion).

Tell your family, friends and neighbours to do the same!

Support Your Community  –  SAY NO

Use this information to understand what’s important to you and help form your objections. You can add any thoughts and information you wish to your response. Further information can be found on this website and you are free to cut and paste this into your response as you wish.

Summary of the proposed change

The proposed change would see the Woodlesford tunnel shortened, so that the tunnel ends closer to Woodlesford and Rothwell than on the original plans.  The tunnel would emerge into an embankment in what is currently the farmer’s field just beyond Northwood Falls.

The line would then climb onto a viaduct and run parallel with the canal through the northern edge of Rothwell Country Park. The viaduct would continue above the M1 and then cross over the top of the Hallam Line.

The route would then continue on embankment between Pontefract Road and the connection into the proposed Rolling Stock Depot.  From there the route would be elevated on a 20m high viaduct for 3.3km into Leeds Station crossing above the existing road network, and standing high above homes in Hunslet.

Why have the changes been proposed?

The proposal means that work to re-route the existing railway line into Leeds city centre will not be necessary and that 9 bridges between the M1 and Leeds city centre may not have to be rebuilt. HS2 Ltd believe that this will reduce the number of road closures and disruption to drivers and public transport during construction. It also means a significant cost saving for the Government.

What does this mean for people who live in Woodlesford, John O’Gaunts and Hunslet?

The most important points to include in your response to the consultation are:

  • The tunnel entrance will be much closer to homes, particularly on Northwood Falls. This means more disruption, noise and air pollution during construction. HS2 Ltd have not provided a clear map to show the exact location of the new tunnel exit and in particular how close (perhaps as close as 100m) it is to local houses on Northwood Falls – We believe this is completely unacceptable and makes it impossible to respond to the consultation without being in possession of the full facts.
  • Views across the Aire Valley will be blighted by a viaduct (approx. 20m high) that is high enough to cross above the M1, which itself is built on a viaduct.
  • Loss of access to part of Rothwell Country Park on a permanent basis where the viaduct will run. Access to the rest of Rothwell Country Park is likely to be severely restricted during construction.
  • There are plans to build a construction depot on part of the field that lies between John O’Gaunts and Rothwell Country Park. This is the same field that is subject to a planning proposal for housing development. It seems that HS2 Ltd and Barratt Homes’ proposals are in conflict.
  • Recent statements indicate that the cost projections for HS2 have increased to £86 billion, and likely more. Whilst HS2 Ltd say that the proposed changes will mitigate some of the disruption to traffic and local rail transport that would result from the original proposal, it is clear that a significant consideration here is to cut costs. Promised mitigations are likely to be compromised in the future as HS2 Ltd are clearly desperate to cut costs.

What do I say in my Consultation response?

As well as the key points outlined above, you can also mention the objections suggested for the last consultation, which are set out below. You may also like to include objections to the rolling stock depot and viaduct proposal.

Damaging to Health

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

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

The Temple Newsam rolling stock depot sits on top of 4.5 million cubic metres of toxic, contaminated land that the M1 spent around £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 Ltd 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 Ltd 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 Ltd is not doing enough to protect people from noise and vibration

For the construction period, HS2 Ltd 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 Ltd only look at average noise and not the ‘peak noise’. In addition, HS2 Ltd 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. If the amended route is accepted both tunnel entrances will be very close to residential areas.

HS2 is making people ill and HS2 Ltd are 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 Ltd is doing very little to prevent this.

HS2 Ltd has failed to minimise health risks

HS2 Ltd 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 Ltd 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 Ltd are ignoring Northern Powerhouse 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 Ltd 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. Even if you are eligible within their very strict criteria, it’s very difficult to prove that 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

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 Ltd 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 Ltd are trying to delay and push back the full compensation due to property owners to soften the impact on HS2 Ltd’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 home could become uninsurable.

Major Traffic Disruption

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

Although the revised proposal reduces disruption to train travel on the existing rail line into Leeds, and prolonged closure of Pontefract Road will not be required the additional traffic generated by HS2 construction will still have a detrimental effect.

Main roads in and out of our towns and villages will still be subject to closure. Construction traffic will increase the volume of traffic on our roads. We will still be isolated and struggle 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 Ltd 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 Ltd’s traffic monitoring performed doesn’t take winter traffic into consideration

HS2 Ltd 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 Ltd should reinstate the route through Pontefract Lane to Junction 45

There is only one road connecting Woodlesford and Swillington. HS2 Ltd 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 Ltd 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 the 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 Ltd have significantly downplayed the possible job losses and business closures.

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

The proposal to shorten the tunnel and run the line into Leeds mainly on viaducts adds to the disaster that HS2 will already be for the villages of West Yorkshire. These residents will experience 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 Ltd 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 Ltd 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.  This latest proposal would see much more of the line through our area on viaducts which will blight the large parts of our area and those of the residents of Hunslet.  At what point do HS2 Ltd 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 Ltd 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.

  • 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 Ltd 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.

A dead-end station in Leeds

A dead-end station in Leeds makes no sense for anyone. Leeds City Council, Norther Powerhouse Rail and HS2 Ltd have been working on “touchpoints” in Stourton and Swillington Common to add additional loops of track to take some classic compatible HS2 trains into the existing station that can then continue north. This would bring yet more destruction and blight to our area. This can be avoided by a properly integrated station and would bring significant benefits in connectivity.

HS2 Ltd 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 Ltd 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.

Further information

You may also like to refer to guidance notes for the 2018 consultation and objections to the Stourton rolling stock depot and viadcut proposal.