10:00am Friday 7th February 2014
By Alex Bysouth
A £50BILLION high-speed rail link has been given the go ahead by the local authority, on the condition ‘comprehensive and meaningful engagement’ is sustained with affected communities.
The communities referred to in Cheshire West and Chester Council’s report, which welcomes government proposals for HS2, include the villages of Wincham, Lostock Green and Lostock Gralam.
The council, however, has suggested stringent conditions must be met to protect those along the route, as well as the development of current rail systems.
The report says: “Communities in close proximity to the route need further engagement, demonstration and commitment of the extent to which measures to contain the physical, sound and visual impact of HS2 will be provided.
“There will need to be a proactive inclusive responsive approach to all those that will experience any hardship or blight.
“All dialogue and engagement with communities, businesses and individuals needs to be open, based upon trust and be fully inclusive.”
The report adds: “HS2 is dependent on investment of the classic rail network to enable seamless provision between the two and respond to the significant connectivity issues at local and regional level, which HS2 cannot achieve in isolation.”
The council report backed Cheshire East’s proposals for a HS2 Hub Station at Crewe, but harboured concerns that a single track HS1-HS2 link represents a major risk of curtailing economic benefits to the north.
It says: “The Hub Station would have capacity to manage significant passenger number growth; a customs clearance facility would ultimately enable passengers to travel on trains between Crewe and main land Europe. “ Campaign group Mid Cheshire Against HS2 produced a 40-page consultation response detailing alternatives to the proposed route and how it will affect the economy, wildlife and property prices.
Vice chairman Geoff Edwards said: “We believe that, instead of HS2, people would willingly put up with 14 years of disruption at weekends to improve their local and the UK’s cross country rail services.
“This would be preferable to the blight and disruption of HS2 until 2033, when completion is promised. HS2 will not support local economies or regional rail connectivity. It is a “vanity project’.
“In the unfortunate case that government should proceed with this wasteful project, our consultation response is submitted without prejudice to our stated position.”
The council’s report, which also questions whether sections of the route could be tunnelled, the impact on wildlife and the environment and the effectiveness of sound mitigation measures, can be found viewed at cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk/default.aspx?page=17142
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