Campaigners raise HS2 concerns in meeting with minister

Rhonda Job
Rhonda Job

Rail campaigners fighting to protect Doncaster villages from HS2 have made a last ditch bid to persuade minsters to switch to route.

Officials representing the Joint Rural Parish Action Group, which represents parish councils on the West of Doncaster fighting plans to route the high speed rail link through the Dearne, took their battle to the Government with a meeting with rail minister Paul Maynard.

Joint Rural Parish Action Group chairman Rhonda Job, Doncaster Coun Cynthia Ransome, and Doncaster North MP Ed Miliband made the journey to Westminster for the meeting.

But the delegation decided to put the case forward on why the route should still be changed rather than outlining what mitigation should be put in place for the rural villages where the planned route would pass close.

Mrs Job said: "The battle is not lost until they sign the hybrid bill on the route. We wanted to make the case why this is bad for the region and for the country."

She believes South Yorkshire will not benefit as the Leeds area will see more investment as a result of the scheme because it will see faster trains than it currently has, and more of them that South Yorkshire will see.

During the meeting, she gave a presentation which told the minister that the route which had been proposed was a route which no one had wanted, as most of South Yorkshire had wanted a route through Meadowhall, and Sheffield had wanted a route using the city's Victoria Station, rather than the Midland Station where campaigners believe it will be difficult to fit the trains in alongside the existing trains.

She also raised concerns over the economic analysis over the benefits of the different routes, and said there were environmental impacts which had not been considered. Campaigners have also challenged figures stating the Meadowhall route would involve more property demolitions than the M18 route, which goes thro the Dearne and involves knocking down houses on the Shimmer estate in Mexborough.

Other issues put to the minster were concerns that existing routes could have to be cut back because of sections of conventional track being used used by HS2 trains between Leeds and York;and concerns that comparisons between the routes had been inconsistent as some used a so-called 'refined' Meadowhall route which was not available during consultation.

A HS2 spokesperson said: “HS2 will deliver major benefits to the Yorkshire region. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to dramatically improve journeys between the Midlands and the North, and London, boosting capacity, improving connectivity and helping to rebalance the national economy. It is also becoming integral to local plans to drive business growth, create jobs and secure investment years before it arrives.

“The M18 route remains the best way to serve the region, meeting customer demand, providing fewer impacts, supporting Norther Powerhouse Rail, as well as being both less technically challenging and more cost effective.”

She added HS2 was at the very early stages of design for the route from Birmingham to Leeds and are committed to working with communities and stakeholders to identify appropriate solutions to further reduce impacts.