11:30 Wednesday 30 January 2013

HS2: vital for the future or an unnecessary evil?

Written byJOSHUA TAYLOR

PLANS to build high-speed railway lines within 10 miles of Burton have split public opinion.

While some have blasted the HS2 plans as an ‘unnecessary evil’, others have said the proposals are exactly what Britain’s economy needs.

The Department for Transport this week revealed its preferred routes for the high-speed lines connecting Leeds and Manchester to Birmingham.

As revealed in the Mail, the Birmingham to Manchester line will carve through swathes of Staffordshire, passing Alrewas, Fradley and Kings Bromley.

Meanwhile the Birmingham to Leeds line will cut through North West Leicestershire, coming within hundreds of yards of Ashby, Measham and Moira.

Geraint Jones, the Mayor of Ashby, said: “HS2 is opening up another arterial route and will bring areas of the country closer together when it’s up and running.”

Councillor Jones said he expected his constituents to be ‘ambivalent’ about the plans, but added: “The train line has to go through somewhere and the Government obviously feels Ashby is a natural line for it to follow. We need to catch up with France, Germany and other European countries.”

The Government expects the high-speed rail project to cost £33 billion and the lines north of Birmingham will not be open to passengers until 2033.

Ian Pritchard, who represents Kings Bromley on Lichfield District Council, said: “I think HS2 will be disastrous for Staffordshire. We are a small country and we do not need anything of this magnitude. It’s an unnecessary evil.

“I would much rather the money was spent improving the railways we already have.”

The proposed routes are now subject to a public consultation. Concerns about the suggested route have been raised by the National Forest Company, which has said it could have to fell hundreds of semi-mature trees.

Meanwhile Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant and North West Leicestershire MP Andrew Bridgen have both vowed to fight the plans.

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