Sunday, 20 March 2011

Northants Council 'Unhappy' With High Speed Rail Route


Trains like this one could be common site if HS2 goes ahead.

By Ben Aulakh

Councillors in Northamptonshire have said they are ‘unhappy’ with the proposed route of the high speed rail network through the county.

The local authority had agreed in principle to support a high speed rail link, passing through Northamptonshire, at a meeting of the full cabinet in May last year.

However the cabinet has now said that HS2 should only go ahead if a route can be found, through a consultation that will minimise the rail link’s potentially adverse effects on those living near the line.

A debate at full council will assess the opinions of local authority members; a report which will go to the county council’s cabinet in May will deliver the authority’s official standpoint on the proposal.

Cllr Ben Smith, county council cabinet member for regeneration and growth “It was resolved last year we agreed with the principle of high speed rail in this country.

“This is because it is seen as a key constituent in facilitating economic growth and prosperity.”

“What is clear is that HS2 might impact on communities, and cabinet expressed its concerns about how people living close to the proposed route may be affected.”

“We need to know what in the way of compensation might be available for the people who adversely suffer from it.”

Cllr Smith said that any benefits would need to be balanced with improvements on the west coast mainline, as well as the impact of a long construction period.

Cllr Smith added, “We can then use this information this to influence our response to the government’s consultation on HS2, and whether we are in support of this major proposal.”

HS2 will be discussed at a meeting of the county council on Thursday, March 17.

However anti high speed rail link group STOP HS2 have been highly critical of the government strategy when it comes to consulting communities about the proposal.

They state that a company, HS2 Ltd was formed by exchange of letter and given a budget of £9m to produce a high speed rail proposal.

They state that at no time did anyone from the Government contact those whose homes and property were underneath the proposed route.

STOP HS2 also accuse the government of failing to tell anyone directly affected by the plan that their property is at risk, a year on from it first being announced on March 11 last year.

STOP HS2 Director Penny Gaines said, “Many victims found out from journalists knocking on their doors, or via chatter on the internet.

“The government talks about HS2 being transformational, and having the 'potential to enhance economic growth'.”  

“However the Government has not provided the evidence of how they expect HS2 to achieve this.” 


Photograph from www.labourlist.org.uk

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