Alec responds to latest HS2 “fudge”.

HS2 Ltd has announced a further consultation on 11 proposed changes to the design of Phase 2b, the section of the HS2 route from the West Midlands to Leeds.

HS2 Ltd propose no design refinements in the immediate local area of Swillington, Oulton, Woodlesford or Garforth, despite calls for changes from Alec, local councillors and the SOWHAT action group. Instead, HS2 Ltd has proposed a design refinement in Leeds (refinement #6 Leeds Corridor, Woodlesford to Leeds Station). This refinement changes the height of the route for 8km on the approach into Leeds Station, installing a viaduct rather than a combination of at ground level cutting and embankment.

This is subject to consultation.

Alec, who recently wrote to the Chair of the Transport Select Committee asking for a review of HS2’s entry to Leeds, responded to this latest announcement with a strong response to HS2 Ltd. He said:

“I continue to object to these route proposals. I previously welcomed the fact that Hs2 Ltd changed their original plan for a concrete viaduct through Woodlesford but since then this process has seemed like one fudge after another. There has been no answer to concerns regarding the tunnel entrance at Fleet Lane; no answer to concerns raised at Clumpcliffe; no answer to concerns about construction traffic and spoil extraction around Oulton; and no answer to whether there is still need for a main line route connection through Swillington and Garforth. This latest refinement – with a viaduct heading into Leeds from the Rothwell Country Park – is the last straw. This latest fudge is happening because the Labour-run Leeds City Council is determined to have a city centre station configuration that requires an entry route through Woodlesford. Hs2 Ltd, the Department for Transport and Leeds City Council should revisit my original re-route suggestion: taking a route from the M1, following the existing M621 transport corridor to a reconfigured city centre station. Leeds City Council recently passed a motion reiterating its support for HS2, but it remains my view that they shouldn’t be supporting a route built on the backs of my constituents”.

The latest consultation will close at 23:45 on 6 September 2019.

To access the consultation documents and for details on how to respond, visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/hs2-phase-2b-design-refinement-consultation

HS2 Ltd is holding a series of public information events near each of the proposed changes. For details of the events, please visit www.hs2.org.uk/phase2b.

 

UPDATED – 18th July 2019

On Thursday 18th July 2019 Alec told the House of Commons that he has had it with HS2 and Leeds City Council. For six years Alec has tried to be pragmatic and work with HS2 to get a better deal for his constituents. He’s had some success, but the latest route change – made to help deliver Leeds Council’s city-centre station plan – ride roughshod over those he represents in Rothwell and surrounding areas.

Watch Alec’s speech here:

 

UPDATED – 23rd August 2019 – Alec’s response to Design Refinement Consultation re Rothwell Country Park.

To whom it may concern,

Re: High Speed Two Phase 2b: Design Refinement Consultation – West Midlands to Leeds (Woodlesford to Leeds leg).

For six years I have tried to work proactively with HS2 on the route going through my constituency, and had some success with previous refinements downgrading the impact on the locality around Woodlesford.

I have, however, consistently made clear that less destructive alternative routes should be considered for the branch line into Leeds. This has been made difficult by Leeds City Council’s fixation with a HS2 station configuration that requires a branch route through Woodlesford.

This latest refinement, in respect of Rothwell Country Park, impacts upon my constituents in respect of visual blight. At no point in discussions to date has anybody alerted me to the idea of bringing the tunnel portal nearer to Woodlesford, within the Country Park. I understand that this refinement was made following further studies of the highways network on entry into Leeds, and on the Hallam railway line. It is my understanding that Leeds City Council’s decision to enforce that only two road bridges could be reengineered on at any one time, meaning the budget and timescale has increased unexpectedly. As a result, HS2 Ltd has made a refinement to move the tunnel portal further into Rothwell County Park and install a viaduct from there into Leeds in order to avoid reengineering road bridges, as well as impact upon the Hallam line.

After much consideration, I have informed the Minister that I can no longer support the HS2 project as it stands.

After many years of waiting my constituents deserve to know what the overall route plan is to be, including what amendments are to be made around the Fleet Lane/Eshald Lane/Water Haigh portal entrance; something I have been lobbying for change on for a number of years.

I therefore urge HS2 Ltd to publish a full route proposal, with amendments, rather than smaller design refinement consultations on particular sections.