Campaigners demand HS2 changes

RURAL campaigners want further changes to the government's plans for a high-speed rail link between London and Birmingham.

Revised proposals for the HS2 route – including more tunnels – was announced by transport secretary Justine Greening on Tuesday (10 January).

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) said it welcomed the government's commitment to invest in rail.

But there was a long way to go before we can be sure that HS2 would not have an unacceptable impact on the landscape and local communities.

Shaun Spiers, CPRE Chief Executive, says: "We are pleased the Government has shown its commitment to Britain's railways while being sensitive to the impact that HS2 will have on communities and the countryside.

"It appears that Ministers really have engaged with the consultation responses.

"So we welcome the changes that have been announced, notably the further tunnelling in the Chilterns and alterations to the route to avoid important heritage sites.

"Justine Greening is right that in delivering this important scheme we must safeguard the natural environment and our beautiful countryside.

But Mr Spiers said the announcement was just one step in a very long process.

"There is still much more work to be done. The route proposed today requires detailed study and it is likely that further changes will need to be made."

In particular, CPRE would like to see flexibility on the maximum design speed to allow more sensitive routing with greater curvature of the track.

It believes this will allow for necessary alterations following further local consultation."

Meanwhile, the Country Land and Business Association called for reform of compulsory purchase laws to ensure fair compensation.

The CLA is launching a campaign calling on the government to radically reform compensation deals to ensure a fair deal for affected rural property owners.

CLA President Harry Cotterell said: "Current compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) do not provide adequate protection for property owners when the state has to acquire private land or property without consent for a project such as HS2.

"Much of the work on reform has been done by previous governments but has not been implemented."

Instead, the government had offered a mere 10% extra in compensation to those affected by major infrastructure projects.

It had also failed to fix the unfairness of CPO procedures or taken steps to address blight to land and properties.


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