08:00 Tuesday 29 January 2013

High-speed rail proposals are panned by the politicians

Written byJOSHUA TAYLOR

THE newly unveiled high-speed rail route will ‘blight homes and lives’ within 10 miles of Burton, an MP has claimed.

Lichfield Conservative MP Michael Fabricant, who resigned from the Government last year to fight the HS2 scheme, said the proposed route was ‘unacceptable’ and demanded a rethink.

Meanwhile, North West Leicestershire Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said his constituency would bear ‘all of the pain and none of the gain’ of HS2.

The Department for Transport yesterday revealed for the first time its proposed routes for the 225mph high-speed lines linking Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds.

The Birmingham to Manchester line will, under the Government’s proposals, come within hundreds of yards of Staffordshire villages including Whittington, Kings Bromley, Alrewas and Fradley. Meanwhile, the Birmingham to Leeds line will run straight through North West Leicestershire — passing through North West Leicestershire towns and villages including Measham, Moira and Ashby.

Mr Bridgen said he was ‘disappointed’ with the proposed route and has expressed concerns about the cost of HS2 and its potential environmental impact.

“Having seen the impact it would have on North West Leicestershire, where we would suffer all of the pain and none of the gain, it only reinforces my views against HS2,” he said of yesterday’s announcement.

Mr Fabricant, who has vowed not to support the scheme in Parliament in its current form, said: “I am totally opposed to HS2 going anywhere near Staffordshire.

“I have no illusions on how HS2 will affect residents of Kings Bromley, Armitage and the Ridwares as the line to Manchester plunges northwards through rural Staffordshire, blighting homes and blighting lives.

“In the meantime, I re-affirm that I will continue to work with HS2 to mitigate the damage that is done by their current proposal.”

The exact routes will be chosen by the end of 2014 and construction work is expected to begin during the 2020s and the high-speed lines north of Birmingham should be open to passengers by 2033.

The scheme is likely to meet local opposition but the Government says high-speed rail is vital for Britain’s economic future.

The Mail understands the proposed Birmingham to Leeds line would pass underneath East Midlands Airport in Castle Donington.

The proposed route also passes over land earmarked for a strategic rail freight interchange, north of the airport. The interchange is expected to create 7,000 jobs and bring £500 million into the local economy.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, whose constituency includes Sudbury and Doveridge, defended the scheme.

He said: “We will work with communities and interested parties to find the right balance between delivering essential infrastructure and respecting the rights and justifiable concerns of those who will be most affected by HS2’s construction.”

The total cost of the HS2 scheme is estimated to be £33 billion. The second phase of the project — linking Manchester and Leeds to Birmingham — will cost £18.2 billion.

The Government says HS2 will create 100,000 jobs, generate economic benefits of £47 billion and revenues of up to £34 billion over a 60-year period.

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